Working in Hot Weather
June 9, 2020
OSHA says that each year, thousands of workers get sick from heat exhaustion of heat stroke. Some even die. For more information, go to OSHA’s website.
AM I IN DANGER?
You are at risk if you…
- Work in hot and humid conditions
- Do heavy physical labor
- Don’t drink enough water
This risk is great for workers who are not used to the heat. You can protect yourself and feel better as you work by dressing for hot conditions and taking frequents breaks for water and shade.
What to look for…
Signs of Heat Exhaustion:
- Weakness and wet skin
- Headache, dizziness, or fainting
- Nausea or vomiting
Signs of Heat Stroke:
- Confusion or fainting
- May stop sweating – dry, hot skin
- Convulsions or seizures
HEAT STROKE IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. IT CAN BE DEADLY.
If a co-worker shows signs of heat stroke, CALL 911.
Dress for hot conditions
Wear clothes that are:
- Light-colored (white, etc.)
- Wearing heavy protective clothing or personal protective equipment (PPE) may increase your risk, you may need more frequent breaks for rest and water.
- Drink water every 15 minutes when working in hot conditions.
- Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water. You may already be dehydrated if you do wait.
- Do not drink alcohol and avoid caffeine
- Take frequent rest breaks in shaded, cooled, or air-conditioned areas.
- If you see a co-worker with symptoms of heat exhaustion, speak up.
- If you see a co-worker with symptoms of heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately
PREVENTING INJURIES FROM THE HOT WEATHER
- Get enough sleep
- Wear light clothing and include a shirt that serves as a shield from the sun’s rays.
- Whenever outside, wear a loose-fitting long-sleeve shirt and long pants. Hard hats will protect the scalp.
- Avoid alcohol: it is particularly dangerous while working in a hot setting
- Drink water moderately, about 4 cups each hour.
- Plan the day to tackle more strenuous jobs during the cooler morning hours
- Rest in shaded areas
- Watch new employees for signs of heat illness because it takes about one week for the body to adjust to the heat.
YOUR EMPLOYER SHOULD:
- Have a heat illness prevention program and emergency plan.
- Provide training on heat hazards and steps to prevent heat-related illnesses.
- Provide clean, cool water – about 4 cups (that’s two 16 oz. bottles) each hour.
- Schedule frequent breaks in shaded or cooled areas.
- Gradually increase workloads for workers new to the heat.
If you suspect heatstroke, call 911 or your local emergency number. Then immediately move the person out of the heat, remove excess clothing, and cool him or her by whatever means available, for example:
- Place in a tub of cool water or a cool shower.
- Spray with a garden hose.
- Sponge with cool water.
- Fan while misting with cool water.
- Place ice packs or cool wet towels on the neck, armpits and groin.
- Cover with cool damp sheets.
- Let the person drink cool water to rehydrate, if he or she is able. Don’t give sugary, caffeinated or alcoholic beverages to a person with heatstroke. Also avoid very cold drinks, as these can cause stomach cramps.
- Begin CPR if the person loses consciousness and shows no signs of circulation, such as breathing, coughing or movement.
TAKE BREAKS IN THE SHADE
Staying in shade the key to getting through excessive heat. Workers should be given a cool location where they can take their breaks and recover from the heat.
Outdoors, this might mean a shady area, an air-conditioned vehicle, a nearby building or tent, or an area with fans and misting devices.
- Drink plenty of water
- Don’t push yourself
- Take frequent breaks
- Get medical help if you stop sweating