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July 5, 2024

Summer Safety Tips for Workers

Summer brings sunshine, vacations, and...increased health risks for workers, especially those who toil outdoors or in hot environments. 

While we welcome the warmer weather, it's crucial to be aware of the potential dangers of working in high temperatures. Heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps are all common heat-related illnesses that can strike quickly and pose serious health risks.

Read on below as we discuss how you can stay safe and healthy throughout the summer. 

How can workers stay safe during summer?

Here are some of the best practices on how you can stay safe and healthy while working under the sun:

  1. Hydration: Your body's cooling system

Our bodies rely heavily on water to regulate temperature. When we sweat under hot conditions, we lose fluids and electrolytes, leading to dehydration. This can significantly impact our physical and cognitive function. Here's how to ensure you stay adequately hydrated:

  • Drink early and often

Don't wait until you feel thirsty to reach for a drink. Aim to consume at least two cups of water before starting your workday. 

Throughout the day, consistently sip on water at regular intervals, aiming for one cup every 15-20 minutes, especially during periods of heavy exertion.

  • Invest in a reusable water bottle

Carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times. Not only is it eco-friendly, but having your own water source readily available encourages consistent hydration. Choose a bottle that's easy to carry and keeps your drink cool.

  • Ditch the sugary drinks

Sugary beverages like sodas and sports drinks may quench your thirst temporarily, but the sugar crash can leave you feeling dehydrated later. Opt for water or sugar-free electrolyte drinks to replenish lost fluids and minerals more effectively.

  1. Sun protection: Shielding yourself from harmful rays

The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays pose a threat not just for outdoor workers but also for those who work near windows or under bright fluorescent lighting. Here's how to shield yourself from UV radiation:

  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher liberally to all exposed skin at least 15 minutes before venturing outdoors. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, and more frequently if you sweat heavily or swim.
  • Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats made from tightly woven fabrics that block UV rays. Look for clothing with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating, similar to the SPF rating of sunscreen.
  • When working outdoors, take advantage of shade whenever possible. Schedule breaks under trees, tents, or other covered areas.
  1. Dress for the heat

What you wear plays a vital role in how well your body copes with high temperatures. Here's how to dress strategically for summer work:

  • Tight-fitting clothing restricts airflow and traps heat close to your body. Opt for loose-fitting garments that allow for air circulation and sweat evaporation.
  • Opt for natural fibers like cotton or linen. These fabrics breathe better than synthetic materials, keeping you cooler and more comfortable.
  • Certain work environments may benefit from cooling gear like cooling vests or bandanas. These items help regulate body temperature through evaporation or cooling materials.
  1. Plan your workload

Sometimes, we can't completely avoid working in hot conditions. In such cases, planning your workload can make a significant difference.

For example, if possible, schedule physically demanding tasks for the cooler morning or evening hours. During the hottest part of the day (typically between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.), prioritize less strenuous tasks or take advantage of air-conditioned spaces for breaks.

Regular breaks are essential for preventing heat-related illnesses. Take short breaks in air-conditioned areas or shaded areas every 15-20 minutes, especially during periods of heavy exertion. Use these breaks to rehydrate, cool down, and replenish electrolytes.

What are the signs of heat stress?

Knowing the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke is crucial for early intervention and preventing serious health complications. Here's a breakdown of the signs to watch out for:

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and muscle cramps. The skin may be cool and clammy.

Heatstroke

This is a medical emergency. Signs include a high body temperature (above 104°F), confusion, disorientation, slurred speech, seizures, and loss of consciousness. The skin may be hot and dry.

What to do in case of heat-related emergencies?

Reacting quickly and calmly is essential when someone experiences a heat-related illness. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to assist someone suffering from heat exhaustion or heatstroke:

Move to cool area

The first priority is to get the person out of the hot environment. Move them to a shaded area or, ideally, an air-conditioned building.

Rehydrate

Encourage the person to drink plenty of cool water or a sugar-free electrolyte drink. Sip slowly but consistently to avoid stomach upset.

Loosen clothing

Remove unnecessary clothing and loosen any tight garments to improve air circulation and facilitate cooling.

Cool down the body

Apply cool, wet cloths to the person's face, neck, groin, and armpits. You can also fan them to promote evaporation and cooling.

Monitor the person

Continue monitoring the person's condition. If they show signs of improvement, such as reduced sweating, feeling less dizzy, and normalizing body temperature, you can continue providing fluids and cooling measures.

Seek medical attention

If the person's condition worsens or doesn't improve within 30 minutes, or if you suspect heatstroke, call 911 immediately.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone is experiencing heatstroke, call 911 immediately. Every minute counts in getting them medical attention.

While waiting for help, you can perform the above-mentioned steps to try and help the person in distress.

Patient Direct Pharmacy: Your Partner in Summer Wellness

While you focus on staying safe in the heat, Patient Direct Pharmacy can be your one-stop shop for any summer-related medication needs. We offer a wide range of summer essentials, including first aid supplies, allergy medications, hydration drinks, and more.

We also offer convenient online ordering and home delivery, saving you valuable time and keeping you cool. 

Beyond providing your summer needs, Patient Direct Pharmacy also specializes in injury pharmacy solutions for injured workers. Visit our website to learn more about our workers’ comp pharmacy:

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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