Tips To Stay Safe While Working In The Heat

Helpful Tips to Stay Safe 

As summer approaches and the days get longer, working in the sun and heat becomes more and more dangerous. Knowing how to work safely in hot weather can help prevent heat stress injuries such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Workplaces like construction sites pose a higher risk of exposing their workers to heat illnesses, so knowing how to stay cool working construction is mandatory and should always be at the back of every worker’s mind.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), heatstroke is the most serious heat-related disorder and occurs when the

Construction worker in the heat

body can no longer control its temperature and loses the ability to self-regulate, causing cells and organs to start shutting down and, eventually, die. The body temperature can rise to106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes of being exposed to high enough temperatures and heatstroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Other heat-related disorders include heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rashes. 

Figuring out how to combat heat exhaustion can literally mean the difference between life and death. It’s paramount that every individual knows how to spot the early warning signs of these illnesses. 

Identifying Symptoms and Preventing Heat Illnesses

Heat-Related Disorders

Heatstroke occurs when the body loses its ability to regulate its temperature by sweating. Body temperatures reach dangerous levels and will continue to rise and cause damage if immediate help is not acquired.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Dry, hot reddish skin and lack of sweating
  • Strong, rapid pulse
  • High body temperatures
  • Intense chills
  • Confusion or drowsiness
  • Slurred speech and loss of consciousness

Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to the loss of water, electrolytes, and salt, often lost through sweating. Once the body has lost enough of these components, essential body functions begin to cease functioning. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Intense muscle cramps
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Loss of balance
  • Dizziness and/or confusion
  • Clammy skin
  • Flushing of the skin

Heat cramps when your muscles suddenly and violently contract due to low salt levels and are typically caused by excessive sweating. Symptoms of heat cramps include:

  • Muscle pain usually in the abdomen, arm or legs
  • Muscle spasms usually in the abdomen, arm or legs
  • Loss of motor skills in the arms and legs
  • Numbing sensations in the affected areas 

Heat Rashes are a common irritation of the skin caused by excessive sweating. Symptoms of heat rash include:

  • A red cluster of pimples or small blisters, usually on neck and upper chest, groin area, under the breasts, and in elbow creases.

10 Safety Tips For Working In The Heat:

  1. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids; drink about 16 ounces before starting and 5 to 7 ounces every 15 or 20 minutes.
  2. Wear protective clothing. Lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing helps protect against heat. Change clothing if it gets completely saturated.
  3. Avoid dehydrating liquids. Alcohol, coffee, tea, and caffeinated soft drinks can hurt more than help.
  4. Use a damp rag or a cooling towel. Wipe your face or put it around your neck.
  5. Use sunscreen to avoid sunburns. Use sunscreen and wear a hat if working outside.
  6. Stay vigilant to the signs of heat-related illness. Know what to look for and check on other workers that might be at high risk.
  7. Pace yourself. Slow down and work at an even pace. Know your own limits and ability to work safely in the heat.
  8. Schedule frequent breaks. Take time for rest periods and water breaks in a shaded or air-conditioned area.
  9. Avoid direct sun. Find shade or block out the sun if possible.
  10. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Eat fruits high in fiber and natural juice. Avoid high protein foods.


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