For paving crews, the summer months mean hot, humid, and hard-working conditions that place individuals at high risk for heat-related illnesses. The strenuous nature of the job and extended exposure to the heat and humidity require actions that will help protect everyone from heat-related illness.
Drink, and Drink Some More – Workers should be drinking before, during, and after the workday, and drinking water or other fluids every 15–20 minutes while active in the heat. Cool water should be the main source of hydration. Sports drinks (i.e., Gatorade, Powerade, Smart Water, etc.) are also good for restoring electrolytes.
Summer Dress Code -Breathable lightweight, loose-fitting and moisture wicking clothing in light colors can help the body maintain a healthy temperature.
That Golden Tone – Apply a sunscreen that has an SPF rating of 30 or better to protect exposed skin from the sun and plan to keep applying throughout the day.
In Shade – Take work breaks in the shade and perform tasks in covered areas if possible. Rotate projects among crews to allow breaks from direct sun when available.
Cool It -To cool the body temperature down, apply a cool, wet cloth to pulse points on the body such as the neck, wrists, elbows, tops of feet and inside of the ankles. Soaking hot feet and hands in a bucket of cool water for a few minutes can also help cool the body.
Feels Like – Be aware of the heat index. The Heat Index combines air temperature and relative humidity to determine the apparent “feels like” temperature. High humidity inhibits perspiration from evaporating, which reduces the body’s ability to cool itself, while low humidity increases evaporation, which can lead to dehydration.
OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool App – This free app contains vital safety information available whenever and wherever you need it, right on your mobile device. The Heat Safety Tool App allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite and displays a risk level to outdoor workers based on that heat index. With a simple “click,” you can get reminders about protective measures that should be taken.
Sometimes, despite all the best efforts, the heat can simply overwhelm a team member. Don’t ignore the warning signs! Many workers are affected by heat-related illnesses every year. By taking the above precautions, most heat-related illnesses can be prevented or caught in enough time to treat and avoid any serious conditions. Stay cool and work safe.