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Avoiding Heat Illness in the Workplace

24 Apr

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Working in high-heat conditions can be challenging. By keeping a few simple tips in mind, you can get the job done without discomfort or far worse, and accomplish more in a day than if you ignored safety protocols.
Serious Business
The dangers of heat illnesses are real. Heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can bring about irritating red bumps on the skin, muscle spasms, nausea, dizziness, seizures, and other very dangerous symptoms. If not treated immediately, heat stroke can mean death. It’s vital to respect the power of the sun and take precautions, especially when working in extremely warm conditions.

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Dress for Success
Wearing a power suit can save your life. In this case, the power is in the protection provided by smart clothing choices. When the heat soars, it’s time to trade in dark, heavy, and restraining duds for light-colored, lightweight fabrics that breathe and don’t constrict. Top it off with a wide-brimmed hat, also made of materials that breathe and that allow air to circulate, while shading the face and head.
Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat illnesses, and adopt a buddy system on the job. Co-workers who keep tabs on each other can more quickly recognize signs of impending heat illnesses, which can mean faster treatment–critical when every moment counts.
Three Keys of Cool
Remember these three simple keys to a cool workday:
KEEP HYDRATED – Your body thirsts for water long before you begin to recognize that you need it. If you wait until thirst strikes, you’ve actually waited too long. Don’t give thirst a chance: keep your body regularly replenished with water all day long, taking little sips here and there. Drink a big tumbler of pure water before eating a meal, and not only will you stay hydrated, but you’ll likely feel fuller and eat less as a result.
TAKE A BREAK – Yes, you’re at work, and the job needs to be done but you won’t accomplish anything if you overexert yourself during a hostile heat wave. Taking several small short breaks rather than fewer long breaks will help allow your body to recover from the pounding heat, and keep you on an even keel all day long. This is particularly true if you’re not used to working in warm temperatures. In time, you’ll likely become accustomed to a warmer environment, and will be able to work longer with fewer breaks, but no brownie points are awarded for succumbing to heat illness on the job, so pace yourself and rest frequently.
MADE IN THE SHADE – Simply stepping into a shaded area can itself be a lifesaver. Getting shelter from the direct hit of the sun can make the difference between surviving the heat and suffering a debilitating heat-related illness.
Keep Your Cool
WORK SMART – Dress the part. Skip the heroics and take breaks in the shade when needed. Drink water before you feel thirsty. Let your co-workers know you’ve got their backs. Play it safe for a healthy and more comfortable workday in the sun.
For further questions or concerns please contact your Loss Control Manager.

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