There’s a lot to love about summer-warm temperatures, sunny days and spending time outdoors. But for those who work outdoors these positives can quickly turn to negatives, such as sunburn, dehydration and even heat stroke.
To help you combat these summer safety risks, we’ve outlined safety tips that will help keep your teams healthy and safe while on the job.
1. Stay hydrated.
It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated while on the job, but during hot, humid weather, it’s extremely important to remind your work crews to drink water every hour. How much to drink is up for debate, what is more important is to consume fluid through out the work day. This advice doesn’t apply just to construction and road and farm crews, but for employees working in hot restaurant kitchens and humid, institutional laundry areas.
2. Create a shady spot.
Providing a shelter, such as a canopy, during sweltering summer days can give your workers a place to step out of the sun and cool off, whether on a break or while waiting to start work shifts or rotations. This is a good place for a water station and a reminder to take a large drink of H2O.
3. Remind your crew to protect themselves from UV rays.
Workers who spend long hours in the sun need to be reminded to apply sunscreen to help lower their risks for skin cancer. Daily prompts may be necessary in order to drive home the importance of applying sun protection to their face, particularly on their nose, ears and lips, as well as their arms and legs. If they don’t wear a hat with an attached sun shield they’ll need to apply lotion to the back of their neck. For those outdoor jobs that don’t require hard hats, insist your workers wear head coverings to help protect the top of their head – a good head of hair won’t protect their scalp from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
4. Keep the PPE on – even on those perfect summer days.
Blue skies and warm sunny temperatures make us want to wear less confining clothing, but it’s important for your crew to wear their Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to guard against work-place hazards and the sun’s UV rays. Today’s work gear is more wearer friendly, made with lighter protective materials that help wick away perspiration and block UV rays. There are cooling vests and tank tops, air-vented hats and gloves, goggles with anti-fog properties, bandanas, skull caps and wrist wraps designed to keep the neck, head or arms and body cool. If your crew doesn’t wear goggles remind them to don eyewear to protect their eyes from the sun’s glare and UV rays.
5. Teach your crew to recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses.
Throughout the year, but particularly in the warmer months, educate your work crews how to recognize heat exhaustion or stroke symptoms in themselves or their coworkers. Don’t assume they know what the symptoms are, just remind them if they’re feeling dizzy or light headed they need to stop what they’re doing, sit down in a cool spot and take stock of their health.
Ask these questions to determine if someone has heat exhaustion.
- Do they feel fatigued, disoriented or nauseous?
- Do they have a headache?
- Does their skin feel clammy?
- Do they have a rapid heart rate?
These are all signs of heat exhaustion and immediate action needs to be taken to get the worker cooled down and, if necessary, get medical help. Heat stroke symptoms include elevated body temperature, loss of consciousness, convulsions, vomiting and diarrhea.
Deaths and illnesses from heat exhaustion and stroke are not that unheard of during the hot days of summer. To help prevent a heat-related illness in your crew create a safety campaign via texts, pre-shift meetings, or posters, reminding them to watch for heat-illness symptoms in themselves and their co workers.