Between the heat, humidity and the sun's burning UV rays, working outdoors in the summer can be a dangerous job. Those who are not sheltered from the heat during their summer jobs - camp counselors, farmers, park rangers and construction workers, to name a few - are more susceptible to temperature-related ailments such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and sunburn. In fact, every year, thousands of workers become sick and some even die because of prolonged exposure to heat on the job, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Therefore, you need to protect yourself and co-workers from the dangers of summer weather.
Prepare for the heat
Don't wait until you're panting and sweating to protect yourself from extreme heat. Instead, take the appropriate precautions before you even begin the workday.
Wear heat relief gear - The high temperatures of summer may cause your body to heat up faster than it can cool down. With the proper first-aid tools, you can help your body regulate its temperature. For example, a cooling vest can help prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Make sure you have enough vests so all your co-workers can stay safe.
"Wear a sweatband to reduce the risk for vision problems."
Protect against dripping sweat - Sweat in itself is beneficial because it helps regulate your body temperature. However, when it gets in your eyes, it can obstruct your vision. If you or your colleagues can't see, there's a higher potential for the work area to turn into a dangerous environment, especially if you're using heavy machinery or working near traffic. Everyone on the job should wear a sweatband to reduce the risk of vision problems. A cool headband or reusable sponge sweatband will absorb the moisture and prevent it from dripping into your eyes.
Prevent sunburn - Heat is only one aspect of summer weather dangers. The sun's rays can cause severe sunburn, especially when you're working outside all day. The American Melanoma Foundation advises you apply a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Take it with you to work so co-workers can use it as needed, and reapply it every two hours. Additionally, wear a hat to shade your face, and use sunglasses to improve your vision by protecting against the sun's glare.
Spot the symptoms of heat-related illnesses
While these preventative measures can reduce your risk for heat-related illnesses, working outdoors in the summer can still be dangerous. Educate your co-workers about the signs of these ailments so everyone can work together to stay safe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat exhaustion is marked by heavy sweating, weakness, cold or pale skin, a weak pulse and nausea. Signs of a heat stroke include having a body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, red and hot skin, rapid and strong pulse and unconsciousness. If you suspect that you or your co-workers are experiencing heat exhaustion or stroke, seek medical attention immediately. Have the person experiencing a heat-related illness sip water, apply a cool towel to the back of his or her neck and move to a cool, sheltered area.
By planning ahead and being prepared, you can help everyone stay safe on the job this summer.