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Summer Safety Series: Working Outdoors

A lot of work people do in the summer involves working outdoors. However, the sun is quite strong during summer days and if you’re not careful it can be as deadly at is nice.

picture1_workingoutsideIf you find yourself working outside in the humid weather that this summer is bringing it's a good idea to follow some of these steps:

  • Try to limit the amount of time you work outdoors in the sun from 11 am to 4 pm.
  • Seek shade created by buildings, trees, or canopies as much as possible, especially during lunch and coffee breaks.
  • Apply an SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin before you go outside. This type of sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Reapply the sunscreen at midday or more often if you are perspiring heavily. Apply a broad spectrum, SPF 30 lip balm.

A good question is to ask yourself this season is, do you need more frequent breaks while working outside? Generally speaking, the hot weather’s effect on an individual cannot be readily managed using just engineering controls. In these circumstances some of the most effective ways of managing hot environments is by introducing some simple administrative controls, including:

  • Rescheduling work to cooler times of the day
  • Providing more frequent rest breaks and introducing shade to rest areas
  • Introducing shade in areas where individuals are working
  • Encouraging the removal of personal protective equipment when resting to help facilitate heat loss
  • Educating workers about recognizing the early symptoms of heat stress

The Ministry of Labor advises that as an employer it is crucial that you provide cool drinking water near workers and remind them to drink a cup about every 20 minutes, or more frequently, to stay hydrated. You should always provide enough cool drinking water to satisfy all of your employees at your outdoor operation.

Proper clothing is also important when protecting yourself from the sun. In general, while working outdoors it is recommended that you wear 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. It is also recommended that while outside you should wear a wide-brimmed hat (more than 8 centimeters or 3 inches) and attach a back flap to a construction helmet to cover the back of the neck. Also have a visor to cover the front of your face.

Being outside in the summertime can be fun, but it’s also dangerous if you’re not careful. Follow these steps and it should be smooth sailing. Stay cool folks!

More Information:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/outdoor.htm

http://www.dermatology.ca/programs-resources/resources/sun-safety/outdoor-workers/

http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/gl_heat.php