As temperatures rise, the excitement builds. It’s summertime! This just meant more free time and exciting days with friends as a kid. As an adult who must go to work in the extreme heat every day, it’s slightly different. You don’t have much of a choice if you want that paycheck, though, right? The high temperatures that you must work in during the summer months can be brutal and lead to all kinds of injuries and even death if you’re not careful. Illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion are real things that should be taken seriously by employees and employers alike.
If you’ve ever had heat stroke, you know the severe effects that it can have on your body. It can really take a toll on you physically and mentally. However, being vigilant about how you’re feeling throughout the day and responding accordingly to heat exhaustion symptoms can keep you safe and healthy, ready to take on each day, even the really hot ones!
Are Heat-Related Illnesses & Injuries Avoidable?
While thousands and even millions of workers across the nation are exposed to extreme heat in their workplace, heat-related illnesses and injuries are surprisingly preventable. In fact, they can be avoided altogether with careful planning and some initiative.
Contrary to popular belief, heat-related illness prevention starts with employees themselves. Working to educate yourself on how to stay healthy in certain circumstances will help you prepare for your day and be smart about the things you do throughout the day to stay well.
Employers, of course, have a responsibility to keep their employees safe and protected from heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses and injuries, even if the current legislature doesn’t map it out for them. If you are an employer that has yet to address concerns like workers’ job environment health and safety, it’s never too late to get started.
Tips for Avoiding Heat Illnesses and Accidents
Heat-related illnesses happen fast, without you even realizing it. One minute you’re feeling a little sluggish from the heat but still working hard. You’re lying on the ground the next minute, completely exhausted and overcome by the high temperatures. Knowing the warning signs of heat stroke can help you avoid it as well as help others do the same.
Some of the best ways to stay healthy and strong through the hot summer months include:
- Staying hydrated. Take a quick break every 15 minutes for some cold water. It will do wonders for you!
- Take a break as needed to cool off in the shade, especially if you’re feeling faint or nauseous.
- Learn about heat-related illnesses and the first signs that you should watch out for so you can alert those around you as well as your employer.
- Take extra time for your body to acclimate to the heat. Then, expose yourself to the high temperatures a little at a time to build up a tolerance to the hot weather you’re working in.
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing to stay as cool as possible.
Employers don’t have the choice to just stop working their crew for a few months until temperatures settle down into a nice 70-75 degrees. The work must go on, and so employees must keep working. Employers can still help protect their employees by:
- Providing shade for their employees to work in or take a break under.
- Always keep plenty of cold water nearby and allow frequent water breaks.
- Trying to limit the amount of time your workers are in the heat. Employ larger crews to decrease the time each worker spends in the sun.
- Scheduling the most physically demanding jobs for cooler times of the day.
- Starting crews out earlier in the day to avoid working during the hottest portion of the day.
- Reminding and encouraging workers to take frequent breaks to cool down and re-hydrate.
- Training employees to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
- Hiring medical personnel to monitor the health and medical needs of your crew.
It’s Not Just About Illnesses
While we may often focus on the illnesses and being sick from working outdoors, there is much more to consider when working outdoors. Heat, sweating, and feeling exhausted from your work at a much faster rate are all complicated factors to deal with, but the injuries that can happen from these things can be even worse and more dangerous.
Sweaty, slippery hands can cause you to slip or let go of heavy equipment, and foggy glasses from “overheating” can cause employees to not be able to see properly through goggles or other safety wear. In addition, response time is slower, muscles are more fatigued and unable to lift as much, and a foggy mind that is simply just exhausted does not bode well for keeping things productive and safe at work.
Trying to provide some of the things mentioned above can add a huge boost of morale to your staff and further protect them from some life-threatening illnesses and injuries at the same time. A little forethought can make a big difference for your workers. If they know you care about them and how they feel throughout the day, they will be more willing to work hard for you. It’s a win/win situation!
Working to Keep Employees Safe
At Wormington & Bollinger, we take workers being exposed to high temperatures at work very seriously. It’s a problem that has been ignored and brushed aside for far too long. We are passionate about helping employees that have not been properly protected by their employers fight for themselves and others.
If you have been harmed or injured from a heat-related illness or injury like heat stroke, contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your fellow employees. You have options and should know what you can do to protect and watch out for yourself when others don’t. We look forward to talking with you soon!