Working in the summer heat whether outdoors or in confined spaces can result in various health injuries.
- Heat cramps. Can result from heavy exertion; symptoms include muscular pains.
- Heat exhaustion. Results from loss of body fluid through excessive sweating; symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting.
- Heat stroke. Can be life-threatening. Results from bodyâ€™s inability to cool faster than acquiring heat. Symptoms include very high temperature.
- Heat rashes. Results from trapped perspiration; symptoms include itching, prickly or stinging sensation on skin.
- Sunburn. Results from too much exposure in the sun; symptoms can be red and painful skin.
A few simple precautionary measures can help avoid such heat related injuries:
- Take frequent breaks whenever possible. Quick short breaks are more effective than delayed longer breaks.
- Drink plenty of cool water throughout the day. Have your own water bottles around if necessary.
- Work under shade whenever possible and minimize physical exertions during the hottest part of the day.
- Wear appropriate summer clothing â€“ light colors, loose fitting cottons that allow faster sweat evaporation.
- Choose more carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits than protein in your diet.
The seriousness of heat related injuries in the summer should not be underestimated. According to NOAA:
In the 40-year period from 1936 through 1975, nearly 20,000 people were killed in the United States by the effects of heat and solar radiation. In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1,250 people died.
Employers can reduce a lot of heat stress related injuries by providing workers with plenty of drinking water supplies and cool shades to rest. Providing such facilities does not cost a lot, only a little proactive planning and management.
Companies should also train their workers how to avoid heat stress related injuries. Co-workers can play an active role to help each other especially because as individuals we often do not notice our own symptoms.
For more information and tips for working in summer, here are some additional links:
- Protecting Workers from the Effects of Heat
- Heat-Related Illness
- OSHA safety tips for working in summer heat
Heat stress related products that we offer: