Summer Tips for Working in the Heat
By Stacey Dickert, Safety Matters, LLC
Last summer, a group of 5 roofers took their mid-morning break and shared some delicious iced tea. They talked about the heat of the day and how nice it was that Tom brought in a huge jug of tea to share with the crew.
What they didn’t know was that as the temperature rose, so did their risk of having a heat-related emergency, especially with the extra caffeine they had that morning. In fact, by the afternoon, an ambulance was called to the job site and 3 of the 5 crew members were taken to the hospital with severe dehydration and heat exhaustion.
According to OSHA, every year, thousands of workers become sick, just like this crew, from occupational heat exposure, and some even die.
The good news is – this is preventable.
Both engineering controls and safe work practices can be put in place to reduce risk.
Some ideas include, but are not limited to:
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, both of which aid in dehydration
- Providing multiple breaks with access to a cool place to rest, such as air-conditioned office, break room, vehicle or construction equipment cab
- Increasing ventilation and adding cooling fans or vents to suck out the heat
- Providing safe and free drinking water close to the work area and encouraging frequent breaks to stay hydrated
- Training people to recognize the early warning signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
For more ideas visit: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/prevention.html#engineering
About the Author: While still in high school, Stacey was once the youngest CPR instructor in the state of Wisconsin. Today, she has 14 years of professional experience in health communication and holds a master’s degree in Health Communication from Emerson College in collaboration with Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. Stacey brings enthusiasm and technical expertise to the Safety Matters team along with a background in educational design, health literacy, and public speaking.