Whether you’re working in the construction industry, doing a large amount of yard work, or simply taking on a DIY exterior home project this summer, one thing we can all agree on is that it sure can get hot when working away in the hot sun. With temperatures on the rise, it’s important to be aware of safety standards and protect yourself from possible heat-related illnesses while you work. Here at Aspen, our crews are trained on OSHA safety standards. We’ll share a few of our best practices with you.
Be able to recognize heat-related illnesses
A heat illness results in the body’s failure to cool the body. High body temperatures can be fatal, so it’s important to know what to look for heat safety precautions.
Heat rashes are skin irritation caused by excessive sweating, which can be brought on by prolonged exposure to the sun. Symptoms include red bumps on the skin, especially on the neck, upper chest, folds of skin and anywhere clothes rub on the skin. Avoid heat rashes by working in cool, non-humid environments. Keep the affected areas dry by using powder and sprays.
Heat cramps are pain and muscle spasms that usually occur in the abdomen, arms, and legs. Avoid heat cramps by staying hydrated with water and cool beverages. If you find yourself cramping, take a break from working in a cool, shady area.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include profuse sweating, the feeling of weakness, pale and clammy skin, a fast, weak pulse, vomiting, nausea, headaches, dizziness and feeling lightheaded. If you suspect you are suffering from heat exhaustion, move to a cool, shady location. Lie down and loosen or remove your clothing. In some cases, you may need to apply cold, wet cloths to your body. Sip water and avoid drinking too fast, as this could result in vomiting.
A life-threatening illness, heatstroke is the worst of all heat-related illnesses. Its symptoms are body temperatures above 103° F, hot, red or dry skin, and a rapid, strong pulse. Some cases may result in fainting, confusion, or even seizures. If able, call 911 immediately; if you suspect a friend or peer is suffering from a heatstroke, move them to a cooler location. Refrain from giving them fluid, as doing so could lead to other serious issues. Wet cloths with cool water to reduce their body temperature. You may even try an ice bath to do the job.
Stay hydrated and heat safety
If you’re working in the sun for a prolonged period of time, drink about 4 cups of water per hour. Your water should be fresh, pure and kept at a cool temperature. Keep your water close to your work area, in a cool place. If possible, invest in portable cooling fans with hose access. They’ll cool you off while keeping your skin hydrated. Spray mist water bottles work well, too.
Wear comfortable clothing for heat safety
Believe it or not, wearing long sleeves in the outdoor sun actually serves some purpose. It can protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. You can also opt for moisture-wicking, quick-drying apparel. Keep in mind that cotton is the worst material to wear, as it soaks up the sweat, keeping the moisture against your skin, which increases body temperature. Wear, lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing for maximum comfort. If you like wearing hats, look for polyester or microfiber to wick away moisture.