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Safety tips while working in the heat

Safety tips while working in the heat

While working in hot climates, it is essential to follow safety procedures and precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses. Whether you work in a hot indoor environment or in hot weather conditions, knowing how to work in these conditions can save your life.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 50 to 70 percent of outdoor deaths occur in the first few days of working in warm or hot environments because the body needs to gradually build heat tolerance over time.

The good news is that with proper preparation and supervision, you can reduce your risk of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and other illnesses. Whether you work in the yard during the summer or in a job that requires constant exposure to heat, keep these seven tips for working in hot climates close to you.

1. Stay hydrated

Always have cool water nearby when working outdoors. OSHA recommends drinking one liter of water every hour, which equates to about 8 ounces every 15-20 minutes.

But the matter does not stop at drinking enough water while working in hot climates. Make sure to drink enough water before entering a hot work environment and continue to hydrate afterward. It is also recommended to eat regularly to compensate for salts lost through sweating.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you avoid energy drinks and alcohol to reduce your risk of heat exhaustion. Energy drinks are high in caffeine, which may negatively affect your heart, while alcohol can increase your risk of heat illness and cause dehydration.

2. Eat to fuel your day

Be careful to keep track of what you eat throughout the day and understand its effect on your body while working in the heat. It may be better to eat several small meals throughout the day rather than relying on traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If you are taking medications and working long hours in the sun, it is recommended to consult your healthcare provider, as you may be more susceptible to skin allergies or other heat-related illnesses.

3. Take regular breaks

Rest is very important when working in hot climates, so be sure to take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned indoor area to lower your body temperature. Use this time to hydrate and snack as well.

As temperatures tips while working in hot weather

4. Take time to adjust

Acclimatization is the process of gradually accustoming the body to tolerating heat. When you spend more time outside during the summer or work in a hot environment, your body slowly gets used to these conditions.

For outdoor work such as construction, farming, roofing, landscaping, and mail and package delivery, it is recommended to start with 20% exposure on the first day, and then increase this by a maximum of 20% daily. In the event of a drastic temperature change, all workers should halve the time they spend outside to begin adapting to the climate. Then, workers can slowly increase their workload over the next three days, until they can return to their regular work schedule by the fourth day.

If you work long hours in your garden to complete projects like gardening or landscaping, applying the same techniques will help you avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration.

5. Protect your skin

Depending on the nature of your outdoor work, wear lightweight, light-colored clothing if possible. Some jobs may require wearing specific protective equipment, and although light clothing helps prevent heat-related illness, only wear it if it is safe for your workplace.

If it's safe to do so, consider wearing clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends wearing clothing with a protection factor of at least UPF 30, while UPF 50 or higher is considered excellent protection.

Using a sunscreen with a high protection factor (SPF) can help protect your skin from UVB rays. For prevention during long periods of sun exposure, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Be sure to read the instructions on your sunscreen and reapply it regularly as directed for the best sun protection.

6. Weather monitoring

If you will be working outside or managing workers who work outdoors, be sure to monitor the real-time weather and heat index. This will help you prepare for working outside and plan your rest periods appropriately.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) offers a thermal safety app that can help you calculate the heat index for your jobsite, determine the level of risk to workers, and know what precautions to take.


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