August is in full swing and with it, summertime.
The heat and sun make for beautiful days but can bring with it a set of health hazards.
As climate change shifts our seasons, the heat of summer is known to continue into September. No matter what month it is, it is important to be aware of heat and sun safety to ensure you get home safe every day.
Summertime workers like you are outside in the heat all day long and are at risk for heat-related medical illnesses. Heat and summer safety continue to be important as August brings with it record highs and the blazing sun.
We know you know the basics; drink lots of water, sit in the shade and be aware of the signs of heat stroke. At DOZR we are all about working smarter, not harder. To help you do the same for the hot weather, we have some tips and tricks to keep construction workers and summer labourers cool all summer long.
Want to learn about the difference between heat exhaustion and sunstroke? Read all about it.
Stalk the Shade
Shade changes as the sun moves across the sky. Take notice of where shade is at certain points of the day and consider adjusting your work routine to align with the shade. Not only can this mix up the day-to-day pattern you may have gotten used to over the spring, but it will help regulate your body temperature naturally.
If you do decide to switch up the order you do things in, be sure to communicate this to everyone on site for safety purposes.
Drinking Water Every Day
Chugging water when it’s hot is not enough. Water in your system is like a reservoir: it needs to be constantly fed or else it will dry up. The Big Bottle Co has water bottles that are actually more like water jugs. They hold 1.5L of water to help you stay hydrated all day long.
To avoid heat exhaustion be sure to drink plenty of water on weekends and evenings to keep yourself hydrated 24/7. Feeling like a techie? Hydratespark is a water bottle that connects to your phone and monitors your water intake so you can see how much you’ve actually drank. It glows as a visual reminder to drink water and stay hydrated. You can also try using a reminder on your phone or smartwatch to drink water in the evenings and on weekends.
Request Water On Site
Having water available on site is an important conversation to have. If you don't have access to potable water, knowing this ahead of time will allow for you to bring extra water or come up with a plan with the site super for how to get water throughout the day.
If you are a site super, then take access to water into consideration when planning your project through the summertime. Take responsibility and communicate a plan to the team before it gets too hot.
Choose Your Clothing Wisely
Sweating alone does not keep you cool. It is the evaporation of the sweat off the skin that helps to regulate temperature. Choosing moisture wicking clothing can help encourage this process.
Keep an Extra Set of Summer Clothes in Your Truck
Both heat exhaustion and heatstroke are risks of summertime (link to other blog). Keeping a change of regular clothes on hand can be helpful if you begin to notice signs of either of these. Being able to change into lighter, clean clothes can be a step to regulate your temperature.
It can also be nice for really hot days if you want to change before driving home.
Protection from sunburn is important not only for the health benefits but because working with a terrible sunburn is painful. Putting on sunscreen at work before going outside does not allow adequate time for it to soak in. Make sunscreen application a part of your morning routine and apply it before going to work. Since construction workers and labourers often move around, make sure to apply past where your clothing ends. Stopping half way up your arm can leave the upper part exposed while you work.
Make sure to use SPF 30 to achieve the most UV protection you can.
Not only can lips be sunburnt but they can also be prone to sun-related illnesses like skin cancer. It is important to remember to protect your lips just like you would the rest of your skin. There are lip chaps that contain SPF to protect your lips from the sun and can provide much needed hydration during the summer months.
Keeping an extra stick in your lunch bag or backpack will help ensure that you always have one on hand and can be a friendly reminder to apply consistently throughout the day.
You can buy a two-pack of lip balm with SPF 30 for less than five dollars on Amazon.
Choose Headgear with a Brim
Since safety protocols limit the ability to wear hats on the job choose headgear with a brim to add shade to your face and neck. Hard Hat covers, like the one from Uline, provide sun and UV protection to help keep you cool.
It is important to stay cool. The warnings are consistent every year because the dangers are the same every year. As outdoor labourers working in the heat and doing labour-intensive jobs in the summer environment, your risks can be higher. Putting your health and safety first and protecting yourself from the sun will make sure that you get through the entire summer season with a nice tan and no health scares.
Heat Exhaustion VS Sunstroke: The Facts
While working in the sun all summer long, exposure to the elements can be both wonderful and dangerous. Sunshine is a great source of Vitamin D and studies have shown that working outside in the fresh air is great for your health. However, exposure to heat can lead to serious health problems. Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke come from too much sun exposure and high temperatures. They can happen very quickly or over several days. While they are similar and related, they are not the same thing.
Not only are laborers out in the sun all day long but the hard work they do can contribute to overheating the body. In construction, sitting in a cab all day operating heavy equipment can make the temperature feel hotter than normal. Be aware of your working conditions, know the signs and take steps to keep yourself safe. In 2017, heat was the third leading cause of weather-related deaths in the US, following flash floods and tropical storms.
Heat Exhaustion is not as serious as heat stroke (AKA sunstroke) but can turn into heat stroke if not taken seriously. If you recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion in yourself or anyone around you, immediate action is required. Rest in shade and hydration is important.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Cold, slammy skin
Nausea or vomiting
Rapid, weak pulse
Dizziness and fainting
All of these symptoms can be incredibly dangerous in the construction industry and labour environment. If you or someone around you appears to have heat exhaustion, try to reverse the condition by moving to a cooler environment, resting, staying hydrated, and changing into cooler clothes. If symptoms do not improve within one hour, or they appear to get worse, seek immediate medical care. If not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.
Heat stroke, also called sunstroke can be life-threatening and symptoms can rapidly worsen. Heat stroke can have lasting effects and cause damage to the body’s systems. It is the most serious heat-related illness and should be treated as a life-threatening medical emergency.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Temperature of 104F or higher
Hot, dry skin
Loss of consciousness
If left untreated, heat stroke can damage the brain and nervous system, circulatory system, lungs, kidneys, muscles, live, and digestive tract. If you or someone around you is experiencing signs of heatstroke get them medical attention immediately.
Knowing the signs can help save a life but so can taking precautions to keep yourself from risk of these medical illnesses.
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