Spring is here and temperatures are heating up. While many enjoy working outside during the warmer months, outdoor environments come with a plethora of serious risks. In 2014 alone, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Health hazards, such as heat illness, are entirely preventable. Take every necessary precaution to stay safe and remain protected from the elements.
Four Ways to Stay Safe When Working Outside in Warm Weather
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is the key to avoiding heat illness. OSHA recommends drinking water every 15 minutes, even if you are not feeling thirsty. Dehydration can quickly creep up on you, so being proactive is the best way to avoid it. Prepare for the temperature increase by purchasing a durable, refillable water bottle you can keep nearby all day.
2. Wear Sunscreen
When spending time outdoors, you must wear sunscreen, regardless of your skin type. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) warns an estimated one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime — and no one is eliminated from this risk, despite age, skin type or gender. The AAD recommends applying one ounce of sunscreen 15 minutes before you will be out in the sun and re-applying every two hours. More frequent application may be necessary if you get wet, sweat excessively, or tend to wipe your face frequently.
3. Dress Appropriately
You may not be able to choose your work attire, but if you can, OSHA advises opting for a hat and light-colored clothing. Choose breathable fabrics like cotton and linen over heavier materials, such as polyester and nylon.
4. Recognize Signs of Heat Illness
When working in high temperatures, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can happen, so you need to know how to spot these illnesses. OSHA cites common signs of heat exhaustion as dizziness, headache, sweaty skin, weakness, cramps, nausea/vomiting and fast heartbeat. Heat stroke is often accompanied by confusion, convulsions, fainting, high temperature and red, hot, dry skin. Being cognizant of these symptoms can save your life or that of a co-worker, so keep a close watch.
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