Working in the Summer Heat

Summer Means Fun in the Sun!…
and Greater Risk for Outdoor Workers

Summer’s here, which means the mercury will be climbing. And while summer’s a time for vacations and family fun in the sun, it’s also an especially dangerous season for outdoor workers. High temperatures put workers at risk for heat-related illness, so taking the right precautions is a must. KeyScripts wants to help you recognize the signs of heat-related stress and illness.

Heat Exhaustion is caused by the excess loss of water and salt, typically through sweating. Sweating cools the body to regulate the internal temperature. The more workers sweat from heat and activity, the more they deplete their body’s salt and water levels. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature, and decreased urination. Remember: stay hydrated and take breaks to cool down.

Heat Stroke is a more serious illness, arising when the body can no longer control its internal temperature. When the body’s temperature reaches 106°F, little to no sweat is produced, and the body cannot cool itself – prime conditions for heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion; altered mental status; slurred speech; loss of consciousness; hot, dry skin or profuse sweating; seizures; and high body temperature. If you suspect a co-worker is suffering from heat stroke, call for emergency medical care immediately. Try to cool down the worker with cold water, ice, and circulating the air around the person (fanning). Remember: heat stroke can be fatal if treatment is delayed.

Other heat-related illnesses are heat cramps and heat rash. Low salt levels in muscles or exhaustion can cause muscles to cramp, causing rapid-onset pain and/or limited mobility. Skin irritation, meanwhile, can be caused from excessive sweating, resulting in heat rash.

 

Some safety tips when working in extreme heat:

Stay hydrated. Wear protective clothing. Pace yourself, take frequent breaks, and know your limits. Apply sunscreen. Be alert for any signs of heat stress. Avoid direct sunlight if possible; find or create a shaded location to rest.

No matter the season – accidents happen – even when employers and workers take all necessary precautions. When a workplace injury occurs, KeyScripts is here to help with pharmacy management, caller support, and access to complete ancillary services through our national networks for physical medicine, diagnostic testing, durable medical equipment, translation, transportation, and home health.

For more information on keeping workers safe the in the heat of summer, visit OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention

 


 

View our infographic about working in the heat.