Health & Safety Institute Blog

June 17, 2014

Protect Yourself from Heat Illness When Working Outside This Summer

WorkOutdoors 480845805Working outdoors this summer? It’s all about water, rest, and shade.

Those are the words of wisdom from OSHA, as they launch the fourth year of their awareness campaign to help keep workers safe when worksites are outdoors under the summer sun.

OSHA makes special note of the need for “acclimatization” or the gradual building of tolerance for working in heat:

“Workers new to the heat or those that have been away from work and are returning can be most vulnerable to heat stress and they must be acclimatized.”

This is accomplished by “gradually increasing workload for new and returning workers- and for everyone during a heat wave.” They emphasize the need for acclimatization especially for “new workers, temporary workers, or those returning to work after a week or more off.”

In addition to that slow-but-steady approach to hot weather work, OSHA also suggests:

  • Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Rest in the shade to cool down.
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
  • Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
  • Keep an eye on fellow workers.
  • "Easy does it" on your first days of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.

NIOSH adds a few more items to that heat safety precautions list, including:

  • Wearing loose-fitting, breathable clothing such as cotton and avoid non-breathing synthetic clothing.
  • Scheduling heavy work during the coolest parts of day.
  • Taking more breaks in extreme heat and humidity.
  • Avoiding alcohol, and drinks with large amounts of caffeine or sugar.
  • Being aware that protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase the risk of heat stress.

Keep your crews and yourself safe from heat hazards such as heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Follow these simple guidelines for sun protection and safe hot weather work practices.

Need some extra training? Summit offers a Heat Stress course excellent for workers in all industries. The course uses a common-sense approach and features preventive measures for reducing the chances of suffering from heat-related disorders such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

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