Working Safely in the Summer Heat

With record-breaking heat already here, it’s important to know how to stay safe while working in higher temperatures. Failure to take care of yourself in these conditions can result in serious heat related illnesses, so read up on these tips to prepare for and respond to extreme heat on the jobsite—because we all deserve to feel safe in our place of work.  

1. Stay on top of hydration.

Drink plenty of water even during moderate work, and add sports drinks with balanced electrolytes to the menu during periods of prolonged sweating. Ensure that accessible, convenient restrooms are provided so that avoidance of bathroom use does not delay hydration efforts.

2.      Make a heat acclimatization plan.

Gradually increase time spent in the heat over one to two weeks, starting at 20% of work time in the heat for new workers and 50% for experienced workers.

3.      Minimize exposure.

Reduce time spent in extreme heat by performing strenuous outdoor tasks in the morning and evening when temperatures aren’t as high, and, if possible, on non-consecutive days. In addition, sunscreen and lightweight protective clothing should be worn at all times while working outside to reduce the risk of sunburn.

4.      Take ample breaks.

Rest and rehydrate in a cool, shaded area frequently to prevent overexerting yourself in the heat.

5.      Mechanize as much work as possible.

Minimizing physical exertion by swapping manual labor for machine use whenever possible will reduce metabolic heat load, which helps to prevent your body from overheating.

6.      Know the symptoms of heat related illnesses (HRIs).

Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps can all occur as a result of working in extreme heat. Symptoms of these illnesses include, but are not limited to, high body temperature, confusion, headache, excessive sweating, nausea, cramps, and muscle spasms. These symptoms should be treated seriously and addressed with rest, shade, and water. In some cases, paramedics may need to be called. Read up on these illnesses here so you know what to watch for.

While you’re out there keeping the world running, make sure to take care of yourself you can keep running too!

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