Spring has just begun, and summer is right around the corner. The warmest and sunniest seasons of the year are also the hottest, so you need to take extra precautions when working long hours outside or in an unairconditioned building.
Heat-related health issues are a very serious work hazard. In 2014, 2,630 workers developed heat illness and 18 died from stroke and related causes on the job, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Learn how to stay safe as the temperatures rise over the next few months.
Start Your Shift Hydrated
If you’re cool as a cucumber in air conditioning before your shift, you probably won’t have to load up on water to keep your body temperature down, but you should anyway. Start your workday on the right foot by arriving hydrated and ready to go. Anything else will put you at a disadvantage and increase your risk of developing a heat-related illness.
Drink Water Even When You’re Not Thirsty
When you’re busy working, dehydration can quickly creep up on you, so don’t give it the chance. OSHA recommends drinking plenty of water every 15 to 20 minutes — even if you’re not thirsty. If possible, keep a bottle of water nearby, so you can access it quickly and easily. Advise your colleagues to do the same and remind each other to keep taking water breaks.
The hot weather can easily make you feel tired, so drinking coffee, tea and soda may seem like a savvy way to perk up and stay hydrated, but it doesn’t work that way. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, caffeinated beverages can effectively dehydrate you, so opt for sports drinks — Gatorade, Powerade, etc. — if you want something other than water.
Get as Much Shade as Possible
Standing in direct sunlight all shift is terrible for your body. Step into the shade as much as possible, and put a hat on if you can. Always wear sunscreen and bring the tube with you to reapply throughout your shift. OSHA notes that sunburnt skin has a decreased ability to release excess heat, putting you at a greater risk of developing a heat illness.
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