Safety topics are always a concern when working outside, particularly as the temperatures soar. The best way to ensure employees with outdoor jobs stay safe during summer is by taking proper precautions. Start with a hearty dose of safety training and use the following tips to help prevent workplace injuries when employees are working outside on hot days. And stay hydrated, too!
How to Help Employees Avoid Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
- Schedule physically-demanding activities for workers in the early mornings or evenings when temperatures are lower. To prevent heat exhaustion when work requires strenuous physical activity, have employees wear loose-fitting clothing, drink plenty of water, and avoid drinking dehydrating beverages (ex: drinks with caffeine).
- Encourage employees to drink 5 to 7 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes when working outside. In the course of a day’s work, the body may produce as much as two to three gallons of sweat. These fluids should be replaced at nearly the same rate as they are lost. Cool, clean, palatable drinking water should be readily available.
- Employees should not depend on thirst to signal when or how much water to drink since thirst is a poor indicator of the actual need for fluids.
- Implement a program of work-rest cycles for outside jobs. Shorter work-rest cycles are required for more strenuous physical work and hot work environments. Work periods should be followed by periods of rest in a cooler environment (about 76 degrees Fahrenheit).
- The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) specifies ways to measure heat and humidity and outlines recommended work rest cycles for different workloads in hot/humid environments.
- Encourage employees to add extra salt to food if salt replacement is needed. Salt tablets should not be used.
How Employees Should Protect Themselves when Exposed to Excessive Sun
- Wear sunscreen.
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection. When shopping for sunglasses, the darkness of a lens should not be used to gauge protection from UV rays. The tint is designed to reduce glare.
- Know when to stop and take a break. Outdoor workers should seek shaded or covered areas to take breaks.
- Wear the right clothing. Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt can provide protection from the sun. A wide brimmed hat or neck covering that can be added to a hard hat is recommended.
For more tips on staying safe this summer and other safety topics, please contact our certified HR experts at HR@stratus.hr.