With summer upon us, the sun and record temperatures blazing across the country signal ideal conditions for building and repairs, and outdoor construction. As much as we enjoy this season, it exposes safety concerns that can pose a serious hazard.
In extremely hot and intense working conditions, the body is being overwhelmed by the elements and is not able to cool itself down properly. Working in high temperatures can lead to illnesses ranging in severity. Symptoms can seem as minor as heat rash and sunburn, increasing to experience heat cramps and exhaustion, and ultimately, heat stroke.
Fortunately, there are several different solutions to prevent heat stress and ensure that you are working comfortably. The first and most important is hydration. Water is crucial to helping the body adjust to high temperatures. When it’s hot, drink plenty of water!
But what do you do when water is not enough and you’re still sweating? You should drink fluids that replace lost nutrients from sweat in order prevent dehydration. Electrolyte replacement products are a great option for combatting dehydration as they restore essential minerals that are lost through heat stress symptoms that you don’t normally get from drinking only water.
Avoid pop or energy drinks loaded with sugars! Check out contractor-tested hydration solutions that taste great instead. This is even more important for diabetics, weight-conscious reasons and more.
How do you know if you’re hydrated enough? Your body will tell you! The colour of your urine helps indicate your hydration; the lighter the colour, the better you’re hydrated.
Your body gets rid of excess heat through evaporative cooling from sweat. In high heat conditions, your body’s evaporative cooling through sweat may not be enough. Invest in new innovations such as cooling vests, sweat-activated cooling towels, and sweat bands which use water or frozen gel packs to help create a comfortable environment, especially when air flow is limited.
It is half way through the day and you’re just desperate for just a quick escape from the sunshine and a chance to cool down. Having a shaded area on the job site is essential. Ideally, you’ll have an area equipped with a fan or even a misting system. A misting system is a low-maintenance system that connects to a tank of water or directly to a hose for a designated misting area at a user’s control.
Sweating and evaporative cooling products work more effectively with air movement. It increases the rate that water and sweat evaporates, cooling the body quicker, all while being protected from the main heat source, sunlight. Fans of all sizes, indoors and outdoors, help meet this purpose.
When it is time to go back out to work, you’ll want to protect your skin. Sunscreen isn’t just for protecting you from that awkward tan at the beach. It is crucial to aid in the prevention of heat-related illnesses and damage. UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun can reflect off of sand, tile, cement and water. The higher the UV index number, the stronger the sun, and the greater the need to take precautions. Since shade offers minimal protection, it is recommended to use a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF that is ideally water-resistant.
Unfortunately, some of us are not able to enjoy the summer season as much as others. It is imperative to ensure proper safety measures are being followed when working in extreme heat conditions. The recommendations mentioned can ensure you are as a safe and comfortable as possible working in the rising temperatures, and help reduce injury and fatigue.