Working Safely in Hot Conditions

supervisor communicates with staff on hot sunny day at construction site

 

Our body temperature needs to stay in a healthy range whether at work, at rest or at play. An unsafe level in body temperature can lead to a number of heat-related issues. The most serious issue would be a heat stroke, which could prove fatal, if not treated quickly and properly. Other issues include heat rash, cramps or overall exhaustion. These heat-related issues are all due to a rise in body temperature beyond the normal range. To stay safe, staff must always be aware of working conditions and know one’s limits when working in hot weather.

Work Environment

worker drinks water stays hydrated at job siteYou’ve no doubt provided training on the safe use of work equipment, the proper protective gear (PPE), emergency procedures, and other important safety at work measures. But often, the basics for avoiding heat related dangers are overlooked or taken for granted. A job site in hot conditions, out in the sun, or just in a hot confined interior workspace, can lead to these heat issues. It is important to follow some basic health tips when working in hot conditions.

Safety Awareness

Part of an effective safety program is to be able to assess risks, recognize the potential for serious problems and act according to the training that has been provided. A great safety program includes a responsibility commitment by management, and employees to be aware of safety issues. It is important to recognize the symptoms of heat related problems that may appear among workers. Symptoms of heat stress, heat exhaustion or other heat-related conditions include:

  • unusual or sudden fatigue
  • dizziness
  • muscle cramps
  • inability to sweat and cool down

If one notices these symptoms in oneself or observes it in others, it is important to notify a coworker or supervisor and assist as needed.

Prevention is Key

In most working situations, steps can be taken to avoid the heat problems described above.

blow torch working in hot conditionsThe first few reminders are the same for work as a day at the beach. Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays (hat, sunscreen, etc.) and stay well hydrated. Water is essential to help maintain body temperature and sun burn can raise your body temperature and add more health problems. Wear a hat and drink plenty of liquids.

The outdoor job site should have an adequate supply of water that is easily accessible, and staff should take regular water breaks during the work day. Stay hydrated by drinking water, not coffee, tea or sugary sodas.

The regular work day may need to be altered in hot weather. You simply cannot push yourself or your crew to the limit when the heat is excessive. The daily work plan should establish a pace that is consistent with the heat conditions and include more rest time, and again, more water. Other work planning should include keeping workers from any lengthy duration (more than 2 hours) of exposure to direct sun.

Stay Alert, Stay Cool, Stay Safe

Hot weather is potentially dangerous weather condition, so be aware of the risks and stay safe. Follow good heat prevention practices when working in hot weather and watch out for your co-workers as well.

For more questions on working in hot conditions or for information on our safety programs at Advanced Consulting & Training, contact us today.