If you work in the construction, oil and gas, asbestos removal, or landscaping fields working in the heat is nothing new to you. Even if you are a seasoned pro, you have no way to avoid exposure to dangerously high temperatures during the summer months.
When you can’t hide from the heat, knowing how to protect yourself from heat-related injuries is crucial. Extreme heat could increase the temperature of your body at a rapid rate, making it hard for you to cool down. When you can’t cool down quickly enough, you become susceptible to heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes.
Of all heat stressors, heatstroke is the most serious, according to the CDC. Heatstroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature and the sweating mechanism fails, making the body incapable of cooling down.
Employers are responsible for putting an emergency plan in place and ensuring medical services are available - if needed. Workers must have adequate potable (safe for drinking) water close to the work area and should drink small amounts of water throughout the day.
Although it’s important to include all prevention steps in worksite training and plans, heat-related injuries can be prevented with things like:
Always remember - Working in direct sunlight adds up to 15 degrees to the heat index. The heat index takes both air temperature and humidity into account to determine how hot it really feels outside. The higher the heat index, the hotter the weather will feel. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the heat index is a better measure than air temperature alone for estimating the risk to workers from environmental heat sources.
Check the heat index before starting work and keep a heat index chart handy so employees can easily locate it during the summer months.
The best shield against heat exhaustion is prevention. Know the symptoms of heat stress and stay properly hydrated. Download the free whitepaper on heat-related illness and keep an eye on fellow workers during hot months.
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