Summer is here and temperatures are heating up. If you work outdoors or in an unairconditioned space, it’s important to protect yourself from the warm weather. If you’re not careful, you could develop a heat-related illness, such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat rash. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has plenty of advice to help you stay safe, so read and learn.
Always keep cool water nearby and drink small amounts of it regularly. If you’re not near a refrigerator or water cooler, bring an insulated thermos to work each day. OSHA advises drinking a liter of water per hour. Do note, caffeinated beverages can actually lead to dehydration, so steer clear of them and focus on water.
Under normal conditions, you might not take many breaks, but working in the heat is a different story. OSHA recommends taking short breaks in a shaded area frequently. This will help regulate your body temperature, so you don’t become overheated.
If you’re not used to working in the heat, you’ll need to build a gradual tolerance. OSHA advises preparing your body by starting with 20% of your normal workload on the first day and increasing your efforts by no more than 20% each subsequent day. It can take 14 days or more to become fully acclimated, so listen to your body. You might need a little longer than some of your co-workers, and that’s okay.
When working outside, not wearing sunscreen isn’t an option. OSHA recommends using sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30. Lather up before work and bring the bottle with you to reapply as needed. Wear sunscreen diligently, even if it’s cloudy, as harmful UV rays can still break through the clouds.
Protect yourself from both the sun and the heat by choosing proper attire. OSHA advises covering up in loose-fitting, breathable — i.e., cotton — long-sleeved shirts and long pants. It’s also wise to wear a wide-brimmed hat that covers your neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp, as well as UV-absorbent sunglasses.
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