Heat Exhaustion in the Workplace

There are many occupations where employees are affected by Heat Exhaustion in the workplace, which can be a result of climate, engaging in moderate to strenuous physical conditions, confined spaces making them vulnerable to dehydration (HEAT EXHAUSTION).

Dehydration occurs when the body doesn't have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions.  If lost fluid is not replaced, the person may suffer serious consequences.

Signs and symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration are:-

-   decreased urine output or dark yellow urine

-   sweating

-   fatigue and weakness

-   dry mouth and increased thirst

-   headache

-   muscle cramping

-   poor mental and physical performance

-   dizziness

General Management of Heat Exhaustion

Immediately get the casualty in a cool/shady area, lie down and loosen restrictive clothing around neck, waist and raise legs slightly.

If the casualty is alert and conscious give small amounts of cool water or an electrolyte replacement drink.   If the casualty is nauseated or vomiting give ice cubes to suck on.  (Please Note:  Do not give salt tablets or salt in fluid as this may cause further complications.)

If muscle cramps occur gently stretch the affected limb to ease the pain.

If the casualty is not fully conscious or unconscious please them on their side in the recovery position and immediately call for an ambulance (000 or Mobile Phone 112).


Driver Fatigue

Fatigue is thought to be one of the biggest killers on Australian roads, rivalling the effects of speed, drugs and alcohol.  But the full extent of its role is not really known - unlike alchol and drugs, fatigue can't be tested for in post-mortems.  This is the reason for the big difference between the lowest and highest estimates of the role of fatigue in the Australian road toll.

There are many factors that can cause fatigue whilst driving:-

1.   Lack of sleep

2.   Time of day driving when you're normally asleep (eg. 12.00 am - 6.00 am this is when our biological clock makes us feel tired)

3.   Length of time driving

4.   Sleeping disorders, such as sleep apnoea.

5.   Taking drugs or driving under the influence of alcohol.

How to look for fatigue:-

-   contact yawning

-   heavy of sore eyes

-   trouble keeping head straight

-   blurred vision

-   letting your vehicle drift across the road

-   daydreaming

-   impatience

NOTE:   Fatigue affects you in the same way as alcohol does.

How to manage fatigue:-

-   Avoid driving between 12.00 am - 6.00 am as this is normal sleep time for most people

-   If feeling sleepy take a nap

-   Take regular breaks

-   Avoid alcohol and medicines that may cause drowsiness

-   Plan your travel goals realistically

-   Avoid fatty foods whilst driving, eat a well balanced meal

-   Aim not to travel more than 8-10 hours a day

Common myths to cure driving fatigue:-

-   Consume coffee, it lasts only a short period of time

-   I am a sensible driver - unfortunately you may misjudge your surroundings leading to slow information process and slow reaction time

-   Playing loud music and fresh air has a short term effect.



Did You Know?


Blood is bright red in its oxygenated form and a dark red in deoxygenated form.  In simpler terms, it is bright red when it leaves the lungs full of oxygen and dark red when it returns to the lungs for a refill.  Veins appear blue because light penetrating the skin is absorbed and reflected in high energy wavelengths back to the eye.  Higher energy wavelengths are blue.


What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a burst blood vessel or a blood clot disrupting blood flow to the brain which may cause damage to the brain.

Stroke in Australia is the second leading cause of death after Coronary Heart Disease.  In 2010, Australians suffered around 60 000 new and recurrent strokes equivocating to one stroke every ten minutes.

Stroke can be influenced by a number of factors such as age, gender (stroke is more common in men) and family history.

Other risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, poor diet & exercise, excessive alcohol and diabetes.

The casualty may experience severe headaches, sudden nausea, tingling & weakness to one side of the body, confusion and loss of bladder & bowel control.

The FAST test is an easy way to recognise a stroke:

Facial weakness - Can they smile?

Arm weakness - Can they raise both arms?

Speech - Can they speak clearly and understand you?

Time - to act fast, call an ambulance (Ring triple zero 000) if you see any of the above conditions.

Management of a Stroke:

-  Immediately call an ambulance.

-  Position the casualty, if conscious lay them down or half sitting to keep the head raised, if unconscious place in recovery position.

-  Loosen tight clothing and reassure the casualty to reduce any stress which may cause further complications.

-  Maintain body temperature.

-  Be prepared to administer CPR if the casualty has stopped breathing.


Chest Pain or Heart Attack

In Australia 2007-2008, 475 122 people were hospitalised for Cardiovascular Diseases (Australian Government Institute of Health and Welfare).

Chest pain may be associated with a heart attack, this can be brought on by heart conditions, lifestyle, stress or indigestion.

The individuals who are most at risk are those over the age of 45, overweight, smoke, minimal exercise or a history of heart problems.

They may experience pain or discomfort to the chest, pain radiating to neck, arm/s, or shoulders, nausea, shortness of breath and skin that is cool, pale and clammy.

Management of Chest Pain or Heart Attack:

  • Call Triple Zero (000) immediately for an ambulance.
  • Help the casualty into a comfortable position.
  • Assist casualty to take medication prescribed by a doctor for chest pain.
  • Loosen any tight clothing and reassure casualty to reduce any stress which may cause further complications.
  • Give no food, stimulants or fluids like coffee, tea, alcohol or cigarettes.
  • Be prepared to administer CPR if the casualty has stopped breathing.

NOTE:  Every minute counts whilst waiting for assistance.


What is ICE?

In Case of Emergency (ICE) is a proactive effort intended to provide emergency personnel with next of kin contacts via your mobile phone in an emergency situation.

  • Set up ICE as a contact(s) on your mobile phone; use full names, not nicknames like Dad, Mum, Uncle Johnno.  If you are under 18 years of age you should list your Mother, Father or Guardian as preferred contact(s).  Please notify the individuals concerned that you've added them as ICE contacts.
  • You need to keep the contact information current, and also update your ICE contacts whenever there is a change to your medical history.
  • Using ICE (Mobile Phone) can help emergency personnel to quickly access your medical history within minutes instead of hours.
  • ICE Can Save Your Life!

Drowning Risk

Last year in Australia 35 children aged between 14 months and 5 years of age drowned, predominantly in the family pool.

These children tend to be curious, generally no fear of danger, and are attracted to water and have little care or no capacity to look after themselves in the pool.  Please note:  9 out of 10 children who drowned in the family pools were toddlers.

To minimise risks:-

-   adult supervision at all times

-   have a pool fence erected

-   pool gate closed at all times

-   resuscitation chart on the fence

-   flotation devices in or around the pool

-   keep outside furniture away from the pool fence

-   hold current First Aid Certificate

-   pool alarm devices are available in Australia

Medi Aide Emergency Training can assist parents to gain the skills to deal with a near drowning child. 


Jellyfish Stings In Australia



In July 2010 Australian Resuscitation Council released new guidelines for the first aid treatment of Blue Bottle Jellyfish Stings.  These stings though not life-threatening can be extremely painful and the primary objective is pain relief with heat or cold.

ARC recommends to remove the victim from the water, then carefully remove remaining tentacles from skin surface and rinse the area well with sea water, then either immerse the affected limb in hot water for approximately 20 minutes.  If hot water not available apply cold pack or ice in a dry plastic bag.   If pain persists or if the sting is in a sensitive area, ie. the eye, call an ambulance by dialling 000 or seek assistance by lifesaver/lifeguard if available.

Note:  Jellyfish stings in Tropical Australia are still treated by dousing the stung area with vinegar for 30 seconds.

For advice concerning any marine envenomation contact Australian Venom Research Unit on 1300 760 451 or Poison Information Centre on 13 11 26




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