4 Safety Tips for Outdoor Employees this Summer
Working outdoors can be truly enjoyable, especially for those who dislike being cooped up inside an office all day. However, summer’s high temperatures can cause serious problems. With the increased heat and sun exposure, it is important for individuals who work outdoors to be cognizant of of the weather and their health and safety.
Be mindful of overexposure to the sun and heat stress, so you and your colleagues can avoid succumbing to illnesses and injuries such as heat stroke, heat rashes, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. All outdoor workers face the threat of heat stress when temperatures rise, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) those who are over age 65, overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure or take certain medications face an elevated risk.
4 Tips to Stay Safe While Working Outdoors in the Summer
Even if you do not mind the heat, the human body is only programmed to handle so much. Furthermore, the sun can cause substantial damage to the body, if not protected. Use the following four tips to take care of yourself this summer when temperatures surge to uncomfortable levels.
1. Stay Hydrated
Do not wait until you feel thirsty. Drink fluids throughout the day to keep your body hydrated. Be aware of the type of liquids you drink as well. For example, the CDC warns that drinks containing large amounts of sugar can actually cause your body to lose fluid. The CDC also advises steering clear of exceptionally cold drinks, as they can result in stomach cramps.
2. Wear Sunscreen
Did you know “even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin?” Wear a broad spectrum sunblock / sunscreen to reduce your risk of sun burns, sun poisoning and skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), “it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.” Minimize your risk by taking the following AAD precautions:
- Using a waterproof, broad spectrum (UVA-UVB) sunscreen
- Choose sunscreen with a higher SPF (the FDA’s minimum recommendation is SPF 15 while the AAD recomends SPF 30)
- Using an ample amount of sunscreen
- Reapplying the sunscreen at least every two hours
- Staying in the shade, when possible
- Wearing protective clothing
Additionally, treat any sunburns immediately and avoid continued exposure as much as possible.
3. Wear Appropriate Apparel
Dressing properly for the weather can help you stay cool and protect your body. Wear sunglasses to shield your eyes and brimmed hats to shade your face. If possible, avoid heavy, dark-colored, tight-fitting clothing, opting instead for lightweight, loose materials that allow your skin to breathe. If you are required to wear a uniform, address potential health risks with your employer. They might not be aware of the issues and would consider incorporating something more appropriate for the season.
4. Take Breaks When Needed
When working in the heat, pushing past your limits can easily land you in the hospital. You need to put your health first. The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) requires employers to protect workers from extreme heat, including permitting breaks when necessary. Refusing to allow reasonable time to rest can get a company into serious hot water. You know your body, so when something does not feel right, take a time out.
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