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With Summer fast approaching, you must remember, and you must remind your workers about the dangers of the Summer heat. Those who work outside must remain vigilant and aware of themselves and their coworkers to help prevent heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

What is Heat Stroke?

Heatstroke is a medical condition that occurs when the body is continuously exposed and subjected to extremely high temperatures for prolonged periods.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • A core temperature of 104+ Degrees Fahrenheit
  • Altered mental state (confusion, agitation, slurred speech)
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Red skin
  • Increased and rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Headaches

Continued and untreated exposure can lead to severe and permanent damage to the muscles, kidneys, heart, and brain.

What is Heat Exhaustion?

Similar to heatstroke, heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to determine how to cool down efficiently and consistently. While similar to heatstroke, heat exhaustion’s symptoms are not as severe.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Cool, moist skin with goosebumps
  • Faintness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Low blood pressure upon initially standing
  • Dizziness
  • Constant sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weak but rapid pulse
  • Nausea

OSHA’s Campaign For Heat Illness Awareness and Prevention

In 2011, OSHA launched a campaign to help make both workers and employers more aware of heat-related illnesses. OSHA hopes that this program will help prevent workers from falling victim to heat-related illnesses in the future.

The campaign stresses three major ways to combat heat stroke and heat exhaustion: shade, water, and rest. If employers provide workers with these three things, the chances of someone falling victim to heatstroke and heat exhaustion greatly diminish.

Safety Tips for Workers and Employers

For Employers:

  1. Educate workers about heat-related illnesses.
    1. Ensure workers understand and can identify when themselves or others are suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Consider regular training for workers on heat-related illnesses so that they do not forget the warning signs, and consider mandatory training for new hires. Properly training your workers is essential to avoiding disaster on the jobsite.
  2. Provide Shade, Water, and Resting Areas for Your Team
    1. You must have readily available resting areas for your team. Each space must be either in the shade and must provide clean, cold, drinking water. Consider checking the temperature throughout the day to ensure your workers are getting optimal breaks. Scheduling frequent breaks on hot days will significantly decrease the risk of your workers falling ill.
  3. Require Workers Dress for the Weather
    1. While ensuring that your workers are dressing safe for the construction environment, it is crucial they also dress to beat the heat. Consider the following items when dressing for the summer:
  • Mesh Safety Vests: Allowing for breathability
  • Full-Brim Hard Hats
  • Hard Hats with Neck Protectors: Allow for neck protection from falling objects and the sun!
  • Miracool Headbands

For Workers

  1. Keep Water With You At All Times
    1. The best way to ensure that you are protected against the summer heat is to ensure that you remain hydrated.
  2. Get Enough Sleep
    1. Making sure you are getting enough sleep before working in the heat is extremely important. When the body is healthy, it is much better equipped to handle more extreme environments.
  3. Do Not Wander In and Out of Air-Conditioning
    1. When the body shifts from extreme heat to extreme cool, it experiences a small shock. If you continuously wander indoors for your breaks, your body is straining itself by the continuous change in temperatures. Therefore, instead of going inside, consider staying outside in a shaded environment.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are severe conditions that can lead to more permanent damage to the body. It is essential that everyone on the jobsite, from employer to worker, understands the dangers and warning signs of someone experiencing a heat-related illness. If you need help training, consider Foy Safety Consulting, Inc. We are trained safety professionals that will assist you in following OSHA’s requirements, ensuring you and your team are prepared to handle the heat!