Working outdoors during hot summer months can be extremely physically demanding for hard working employees. Business owners have a responsibility to educate their employees on best practices for keeping themselves safe when working in the sun for long periods of time. By taking the time to understand the risks of working in uncomfortable heat and the associated symptoms of heat-related illnesses, employees can prioritize their individual safety during their shifts and lessen their likelihood of falling ill on the job.
In order to prepare workers for the hot summer months, we have put together a list of the most useful tips for how to mitigate heat stress and avoid workplace heat-related illnesses.
How to Stay Safe Working in Direct Sunlight
Each year, thousands of outdoor workers fall ill due to occupational heat exposure. What employers often forget is that these accidents are completely avoidable if the proper information and training is given to employees. By providing support and precautionary measures, employers can help employees prioritize their well-being and in uncomfortable work conditions.
Remember to Take Breaks
Remaining in direct sunlight for extended periods of time can not only result in a person overheating or falling ill to a heat-related illness, but can also increase their likelihood of developing skin cancer. Employers should allow workers their well-deserved breaks from the sunlight in a well shaded area for proper rest. It’s also recommended to schedule the most daunting physical work for cooler hours of the day, such as the morning, so workers won’t have to overexert themselves getting their jobs done.
Bring Sunscreen to Protect Skin
EHS Today has found that 82% of workers do not apply sunscreen before going to work, putting them at a greater risk for skin ailments caused by extreme sun exposure. It was also found that 70% of employees say their job sites do not provide sunscreen for workers to utilize.
Providing and encouraging employees to apply sunscreen on a daily basis creates a safer workplace for workers. In addition, educating employees on the risks of UV radiation and inadequate sun protection will make them more self-motivated to prioritize their safety.
Stay Hydrated By Drinking Lots of Fluids
The average person has around 2 to 5 million sweat glands that activate once their body starts to overheat doing strenuous physical activity. These glands allow the sweat to evaporate, cooling the body temperature for the individual, but also reducing reserved water and electrolytes. Dehydration causes important bodily functions to slow resulting in heat stress.
To prevent dehydration in employees, provide them with reusable water bottles to drink from and refill stations they can go to throughout the job site if more water is needed. Seminars and formal training can also be given to employees to highlight the importance of hydration.
“In order to prepare workers for the hot summer months, we have put together a list of the most useful tips for how to mitigate heat stress and avoid workplace heat-related illnesses.”