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How can outdoor workers avoid heat injuries?

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Work injuries |

Landscapers, construction workers, roofers and agricultural workers – among others – are gearing up for summer – and that means it’s time for an annual reminder about how to stay safe in the heat.

While it’s not hot yet, it’s going to be warm very soon – and outdoor workers need to be ready. It doesn’t take much for heat exhaustion to escalate into heat stroke, and that can lead to serious injuries and deaths. 

Tips for beating the heat when you work outside

It can help if you and your co-workers “buddy up” while you’re working outside and keep an eye on each other for trouble – since heat exhaustion can come on very quickly. With that in mind, however, here are some tips that can keep you safer:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid too much coffee and soda, since caffeine can dehydrate you.
  • Take regular breaks: Schedule frequent breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas to cool down. Resting helps prevent overheating.
  • Wear appropriate clothing: Choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in light colors to reflect sunlight and stay cooler.
  • Use sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with a high SPF before going outside and reapply it every few hours, especially if you’re sweating.
  • Know the signs of heat-related illnesses: Educate yourself and your co-workers about the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, such as dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat and confusion.
  • Modify your work practices: Adjust workloads and pace to account for the heat once the temperatures start soaring. Avoid strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Be ready to call 911: If you suspect you have heat exhaustion or your co-worker may be having an issue with the heat, call for emergency medical services first – and worry about the job later.

If you’re unused to working in the heat, you still have plenty of time to acclimatize before summer gets rolling. If you do get injured due to the heat, however, make sure that you investigate your options under workers’ compensation – and don’t let anybody tell you that a heat injury doesn’t qualify.