Do you have an outdoor job at an apartment complex? While being outdoors can be invigorating most times, working in intense heat requires special attention. During the summer months, outdoor workers (such as landscapers, pool cleaners and construction laborers) should be aware of heat hazards and take steps to prevent heat-related illness before it strikes. After all, in addition to affecting your performance, working in extreme heat can have detrimental effects on your health and well-being.
What many people fail to realize is heat-related illness can happen in very little time – and can potentially be a life-threatening condition. Taking precautions is critical for ensuring your own personal health and safety, as well as being able to perform your job.
As temperatures continue to rise, here are three top safety tips to beat the heat:
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recommends monitoring fluid intake throughout the day, as high temperatures can quickly lead to dehydration. It’s recommended that workers drink at least four 8-ounce cups of water per hour and avoid fluids that can increase dehydration – including coffee, tea, soda and sports drinks containing large amounts of sugar or caffeine. If you find drinking enough water is difficult to remember, consider setting a timer on your phone so you’re reminded every hour to drink more fluids.
Wear proper clothing.
Working outdoors in extreme heat requires an entirely different set of clothing than you’d otherwise wear in other weather conditions. In most cases, it’s best to wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes made from cotton or another light fabric. There are many cooling options to consider, such as cooling vests and accessories (such as broad-brimmed hats) which will keep your body temperature at a moderate level. If you don’t believe your current work uniform is sufficient for the summer, talk to your manager about some other options.
Take regularly scheduled breaks.
When it comes to manual labor, breaks are always important. However, frequent short breaks are even more necessary in the heat. No matter how busy you may be, taking regular 15-minute breaks will give your body a chance to cool down and rehydrate, regulating your internal core temperature. While it’s ideal to take a breather inside an air-conditioned place, spending even just a few minutes in the shade can help your body cool down. The key is to schedule your breaks, so your body doesn’t become overheated and worn down. In addition, talk with your employer about scheduling your heaviest work during the coolest part of the day (typically in the morning hours), and lighter work as it becomes hotter in the afternoon.
Be Safe This Summer
The bottom line for working in the heat – listen to your body and don’t be afraid to speak up! By following the steps above, you’ll not only feel your best on the job, but enjoy working outdoors in the summer.
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