The sun can be as deadly as it is nice during the hot, summer months. Heat stress, caused when a person’s body reaches an internal temperature of 40 C° or higher, can lead to heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps and rashes as well as hyperthermia.
Generally when it comes to managing your workplace hazards, following the Hierarchy of Controls is your first order of protection. Unfortunately, the hot weather’s effect can’t always be managed by engineering controls alone.
If your job is bringing you outside in the humid weather this summer, it’s important to consider these ten tips to keep cool:
10 Ways to Stay Cool & Safe Working in the heat
- Apply an SPF 30 or higher, broad-spectrum sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin before you go outside. (SPF lip chap is important too!)
- Reapply the sunscreen at midday or more often if you are perspiring heavily.
- If possible, limit the amount of time you work outdoors in the sun from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Take frequent rest breaks.
- Seek shade created by buildings, trees or canopies as much as possible, or (better yet) introduce shaded areas where you’re working.
- Encourage the removal of personal protective equipment (wherever it’s safe to do so) when resting to help facilitate heat loss.
- Stay hydrated! The Ministry of Labour advises that employers should provide cool drinking water near workers and remind them to drink a cup at least every 20 minutes.
- Dress appropriately. Wear light clothing that covers as much of the body as possible. Fabrics which do not let light through work best. Make sure clothing is loose and comfortable.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat (more than 8 centimeters or 3 inches) or attach a back flap to your construction helmet to cover the back of your neck.
- Educate yourself on recognizing the early symptoms of heat stress.
If you’re interested learning more about how heat affects the body, the steps you can take to prevent heat stress and elementary first aid that can be given to a worker affected by heat-related illness, be sure to check out our online course.
Being outside in the summertime can be fun, but it’s also dangerous if you’re not careful. Stay cool folks!