One of the best ways to reduce heat stress on workers is to minimize heat in the workplace. But there are some work environments where heat production is difficult to control, such as when furnaces or sources of steam or water are present in the work area or when the workplace itself is outdoors and exposed to varying warm weather conditions.

Humans are, to a large extent, capable of adjusting to the heat. This adjustment to heat, under normal circumstances, usually takes about five to seven days, during which time the body undergoes a series of changes that make continued exposure to heat more endurable.

On the first day of work in a hot environment, the body temperature, pulse rate, and general discomfort will be higher. With each succeeding daily exposure, all of these responses will gradually decrease, while the sweat rate will increase. When the body becomes acclimated to the heat, the worker will find it possible to perform work with less strain and distress.

Gradual exposure to heat gives the body time to become accustomed to higher environmental temperatures. Heat disorders in general are more likely to occur among workers who have not been given time to adjust to working in the heat or among workers who have been away from hot environments and who have gotten accustomed to lower temperatures.

Hot weather conditions of the summer are likely to affect the worker who is not acclimatized to heat. Likewise, workers who return to work after a leisurely vacation or extended illness may be affected by the heat in the work environment. Whenever such circumstances occur, the worker should be gradually reacclimatized to the hot environment.

Caution: Persons with heart problems or those on a low low sodium diet who work in hot environments should consult a physician about what to do under these conditions.