7 Safety Tips to Protect Workers in Summer Heat

With high temps beginning to scorch certain areas, now is a good time for a reminder about how to work safely in the heat of summer

7 Safety Tips to Protect Workers in Summer Heat

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Summer is a great time for business, but a brutal time for workers. Excessive heat and sun exposure pose significant dangers, such as sunburn, dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Every year, workers become ill on the job and some even lose their lives due to heat exposure.

To protect its workers from the extreme summer heat, Western Specialty Contractors manages a heat illness training program and a safety hotline for its employees.

As part of the program, training is provided to all employees and supervisors who work in high temperatures. Training topics include how heat can affect the body, how to identify the signs and symptoms of various heat-related illnesses, and what to do if a coworker is experiencing symptoms of a heat-related illness. Western also regulates the hotter environment by providing water and shade to workers and by having supervisors and safety managers monitor the heat index so that the proper protective measures can be taken.

“It is important particularly during the summer months that outdoor workers drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration, which is the primary cause of heat cramps and heat exhaustion,” says Cameron Samuel, assistant safety director at Western Specialty Contractors.

Samuel — who has training and experience managing the health and safety of outdoor workers — offers the following tips for preventing heat-related illnesses on a job site:

• Drink water frequently, and drink enough water that you never become thirsty. Drink water or other noncaffeinated, electrolytic beverages, and make sure that your drinks are always cool, not room temperature. Adding a lemon slice to water can make plain water more drinkable.

• Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing made from natural materials such as cotton. Avoid wearing nonbreathing synthetic clothing. Wear safety glasses with UV protection, sunscreen and brimmed hard hats.

• Gradually build up to heavy work. If possible, do the hardest work during the coolest time of the day. Workers who are suddenly exposed to working in a hot environment face additional hazards to their health and safety. New workers and those returning from time away need to be extra careful in making sure they stay hydrated.

• Take more breaks in extreme heat and humidity. Move to the shade or a cool area such as an air-conditioned building or car when possible, but try not to go in and out of air conditioning too much as it will make it harder for you to adjust to the heat. Use cooling fans whenever possible.

• Select your lunch carefully. Junk food is high in fat and preservatives and will put a high caloric load on the digestive system. Try eating a bigger breakfast so you're not as hungry at lunch. Eat light lunches that include fruits, vegetables and salads. 

About the author: Western Specialty Contractors is family-owned and operated for more than 100 years, and is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. Western offers a nationwide network of expertise that building owners, engineers, architects and property managers can count on to develop cost-effective, corrective measures that can add years of useful life to a variety of structures including: industrial, commercial, healthcare, historic, educational and government buildings, parking structures and sports stadiums. Western is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, with 30 branch offices nationwide and employs more than 1,200 salaried and hourly professionals. For more information about Western Specialty Contractors, visit westernspecialtycontractors.com.


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