How to Avoid the Dangers of Working in Hot Conditions
As we get into the summer months and the mercury begins to creep higher and higher, it’s important to remember that working in hot conditions poses its own unique safety threats. Knowing what precautions to take in order to prevent the serious dangers that hot weather can present is particularly important for those of us that work outside. Here’s how to avoid the dangers of working in hot conditions.
What are the Dangers?
Heat stress is a serious condition that can lead to severe damage to a person’s health, and in extreme circumstances even death. When someone’s body is unable to sufficiently cool itself down for whatever reason, this puts them in real danger of suffering a heat stroke. This is caused when a person’s core body temperature rises above 105 degrees F, which will put them into a state of illness.
Another danger of working outdoors in direct sunlight is the possibility of getting skin cancer through repeated and prolonged exposure. Though this is not necessarily a short term effect, it’s important to consider if your job sees you outside for long portions of time.
How to Avoid Heat Related Illness
The first and most important step is to stay hydrated, and the method of drinking little and often is the best way to do this. Water is the most efficient liquid to drink to remain hydrated and it’s also preferable to stay away from soda and caffeinated drinks such as coffee.
As much as possible, try to work in shaded areas, but regardless of whether you can or not, always wear the appropriate clothing. Loose fitting, light colors are best where this is concerned and a hat with a peak to keep the sun off of your face.
You should apply a good quality sunscreen at regular intervals to protect your skin whenever you’re working outside in sunny conditions.
What are the Signs of Heat Stroke?
The tell tale signs of heat stroke can include nausea, a rapid heart rate, cramps, headache, fever, confusion, fainting, and ultimately a loss of consciousness. At the first signs of illness it’s important to react fast as heat stroke can cause a rapid decline in someone’s health if it’s not treated straight away.
What to do if you Suspect You or a Colleague Have a Heat Related Illness
Call emergency services immediately if you suspect a heat stroke, and take them to an air conditioned or shaded area, and try to cool them down as quickly as possible.
The most effective way of doing this is to first remove unnecessary clothing and place them in a cool bath, shower, or spray them with a hose. If you have ice available then you can apply it to the warmest areas, the groin, armpits, neck and back. Fanning can also be useful, particularly when the person is already wet as it will speed up evaporation of the water, taking heat away from their body.
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