The Dog Days of Summer: Heat Stress and You
By: Tim Foulks
Preventative measures to reduce and control the frequency of heat-related illness should be discussed and reviewed with your team at the beginning of the warm season. Preventative measures include:
1) Selecting appropriate clothing that will wick away sweat and keep the body cool. Light colored, loose-fitting, cotton (or other breathable material) should be worn, while non-breathable synthetic clothing should be avoided. The right clothes will allow sweat to evaporate from the skin resulting in a cooling effect for the skins surface.
2) Begin hydration before outdoor work and repeat often. Drink enough water so that thirst is not experienced. Drinking about 1-cup of water every 15-20 minutes will help prevent dehydration. Additionally, drinks that contribute to dehydration should be avoided (alcohol, fluids with large amounts of caffeine and/or sugar).
3) Gradually increase the duration and intensity of outdoor work to properly allow the body to acclimate to high temperatures. Complete heat acclimatization can require up to 14 days of exposure, and can vary from person to person. Slowly integrate workers into the warmer environments and introduce breaks often at first while the body is adjusting to the warmer climate.
4) Pay attention to weather reports and schedule work around cooler parts of the day. Attempt to limit work activities during the hottest part of the day, particularly during humid days that may increase sweating and decrease time to dehydration. If work must be performed during the warmest part of the day, try to provide shade and offer frequent hydration and rest breaks.
5) Stick to the Buddy System. It’s essential to monitor your own physical condition as well as that of your coworkers. Having a designated person check in with workers to monitor signs and symptoms of heat related illness and provide cool water will help to reduce the frequency and severity of heat related illness. The designated person should be responsible for and allowed to have workers take breaks when heat related illness is a potential concern.
Related Topics: Short Read