People cool down by sweating, but when heat and humidity are both at high levels, sweating alone isn't enough. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two possible consequences--both of which are preventable. More than 2,630 workers suffered heat illness in 2014, and 18 died.
Under federal law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards, OSHA says, and this includes protecting workers from extreme heat. The agency recommended workers be provided with water, rest, and shade, and be monitored for signs of heat-related illness. New or returning workers should be allowed some time to acclimate themselves to heat before taking on a full work load. Workers should be trained in how to prevent heat illness, and plan for emergencies should they occur.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headache, sweaty skin, weakness, cramps, vomiting, and a fast heart rate. Heat stroke, a more serious condition, is marked by red, hot, dry skin, high temperature, confusion, convulsions, and fainting.
OSHA provides more information about preventive steps at its website.