When does the summer heat transition from fun to dangerous? With sun exposure and heat radiating off the concrete, is it really a good idea to be outside?
Working outdoors is part of many jobs, but there are ways to protect your team from the heat. Here are OSHA’s tips to help you stay safe and ‘beat the heat’ this summer
- Be informed and stay up-to-date on the weather. Heat is one of the highest risk factors for construction workers’ health, mental endurance and productivity. High heat indexes increase job site accidents, slow progress and endanger workers. Workers should pay attention to the heat index, but leadership is responsible for protecting team members with high-heat and weather warnings each day.
- Stay hydrated. Keep cool drinking water onsite and facilitate frequent water breaks. When working outdoors, staff should drink four cups of water per hour. Site leaders should provide water with disposable cups and make sure workers stop every hour to drink water, lower their body temperature and rest for a few moments.
- Wear sunscreen.Sun exposure can quickly lead to sunburn, which takes away the body’s natural cooling abilities. Leaders should encourage employees to wear sunscreen to work and provide sunscreen for application around lunchtime. Sunscreen, hats and working in the shade can all decrease sun exposure and help protect against heat risks.
- Rotate stations. Workers should limit direct sun exposure and heavy lifting to a maximum of one hour at a time. Employers should schedule staff to rotate stations throughout the day to reduce overall sun exposure.
- Educate workers about heat illness.Extreme heat and sun exposure can quickly lead to dehydration and heat-related illnesses such as lower heart rate, heat stroke and physiological side effects. Keeping workers, particularly job site leaders, informed about the warning signs of heat illness, such as dizziness, disorientation and sluggishness, can prevent more serious injuries.
- Use additional cooling measures. Set up fans to circulate the air as employees work in the heat. Workers should wear hard hats with sun protection and have cooling cloths that can be soaked with cool water—both of which lower body temperature and defend against heat illness. In addition, as soon as a worksite has a working air conditioner, run the AC to keep workers cool and increase productivity.
The extreme summer temperatures can quickly squash productivity, make workers sick and decrease morale. Beat the heat! Protect your workers and keep your job site safe this summer.