National Safety Month is recognized every June as a time to bring awareness and education about the various ways to stay safe at home, the workplace and in your community. This June we’re going to discuss ways to stay safe while working and enjoying the great outdoors this summer.
While working outside, always be aware of your surroundings and environment, particularly the temperature in the summer months. You can become dehydrated very quickly in hot temperatures which can result in heat-related conditions such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and rashes. Whether you’re working outside on the job or around your house, be sure to drink plenty of water. In warm climates, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) recommends drinking about one liters of water over a one-hour period which equals about one cup every 15 minutes.
If you’re not accustomed to working in the heat, be aware that your body needs time to acclimate to the warmer climate. OSHA states that between 50% to 70% of outdoor work fatalities occur in the first few days of working in warm and hot environments due to not being accustomed to the temperatures.
Heat-Related Illness Symptoms
Heat stroke is a serious illness which occurs when your body no longer sweats, and your body temperature reaches dangerous levels. Symptoms include slurred speech, confusion, chills, strong and rapid pulse and dry, hot reddish skin. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include excessive sweating, weakness, fatigue, dizziness or confusion, clammy skin, muscle cramps and a flushed complexion. To lower your risk of these illnesses, take frequent breaks in a shaded or air-conditioned area, consume adequate fluids, work in shorter shifts and learn to quickly identify symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Although everyone is at risk of being affected by the heat, those who are 65 or older, have high blood pressure or heart disease are at greater risk of developing heat-related illnesses.
Source: “Overview: Working in Outdoor and Indoor Heat Environments,” osha.gov/heat-exposure, accessed May 10, 2022.