Working Outdoors Safely with Summer Storms & Heat in Mind

worker drinks water stays hydrated while outside in summer heat

Summer in our part of Canada is a long-anticipated event, following those long, harsh winters that seem to never end. Summertime means family fun and outdoor activities, but it can also bring danger both in the workplace and for leisure activities in the form of heat stress, severe thunderstorms, and high winds and tornados. Following are some tips to help you keep your summers safe.

Working Safely in Summer Heat

Heat stress is a condition caused by the body being unable to regulate its temperature at a safe level. Signs of heat stress include nausea, headaches, and cramps. It is extremely important to recognize and deal with these signs, as heat stress can rapidly escalate into heat stroke, which can be fatal.

Anyone working outside will need to take some precautions. First and foremost is to stay hydrated – drinking water during time spent working outdoors is essential, not just when one feels thirsty. Your organization should provide adequate instructions to staff as to effective hydration techniques, as well as make water or water breaks available at regular intervals.

Make sure that staff are taking breaks to cool off, getting in the shade or air conditioning where possible. Use cool compresses to cool off someone who appears to be suffering from heat stress, and notify emergency medical personnel if the condition begins to worsen.

Summer Storms – Lightning, Wind, Even Tornadoes!

lightning strikes nearby as storm approaches work siteSummer can also bring us severe thunderstorms, which are accompanied by frequent lightning strikes and high winds that can cause significant damage and injury. The simplest way to stay safe is to avoid exposure to thunderstorms.

If the weather forecast shows a severe thunderstorm watch or possibility of storms forming, be watchful of conditions which can change rapidly.

If a thunderstorm is approaching, be proactive – don’t wait for lightning to strike! Get out ahead of the storm, securing scaffolding and other objects that could become airborne, then ensure that all employees are out of harm’s way before the lightning and winds are upon the site.

There are many weather apps that will alert you to changing weather conditions.

If caught in a thunderstorm, try to find shelter indoors, away from windows. Avoid contact with electrical conductors, such as land-line phones and appliances, as they can conduct electricity from a lightning strike. Lightning is one of the top killers each year in outdoor incidents, so it’s best to have a healthy respect and take all necessary precautions.

construction workers outside in summer heatSummer also brings an increase in tornadoes. These are incredibly violent storms, as witnessed in Ottawa in September 2018. Tornadoes can destroy even the most well-built structures, rip trees out of the ground, and turn ordinary items like outdoor furniture and flowerpots into deadly missiles.

The keys to safety in thunderstorms are information and preparation.  Make sure that all employees know what to do in the event of a tornado, and confirm that your workplace is adequately prepared.

Look for the tell-tale signs of a tornado – dark greenish-black clouds, funnel shaped clouds, or a cloud of debris. At these signs, seek refuge immediately in a basement, interior room with no windows, or a designated storm shelter.  Keep informed with the news, and follow any instructions regarding staying sheltered or evacuating.

Be Proactive, Make Safety Awareness a Top Priority

Following these simple safety tips, and being informed and aware of the potential risks in summer weather, can go a long way to enjoying a safe summer season.

For more safety tips or to institute safety training programs in your workplace, talk to us today. Advanced Consulting & Training is a leader in safety training programs, classes and consulting.