With temperatures across the state soaring this week, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is reminding workers and employers that working outdoors in hot weather can quickly cause heat-related illness. It is particularly important to be aware when temperatures seesaw between cool to very hot weather.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are deadly serious risks that can quickly and subtly appear in people working outside in high temperatures. When temperatures have large fluctuations, like expected this week, people typically have a hard time acclimating to the conditions.
People who perform outside physical work, especially in construction and agricultural workplaces, are cautioned to be extra aware this week.
These five tips can help prevent serious illness for those working outdoors in hot weather:
- Start work well hydrated and drink as much as a cup of water every 15 minutes.
- Watch co-workers for signs of heat-related illness, such as headaches, dizziness or nausea.
- Pace your work and take scheduled breaks.
- Wear lightweight clothing and remove protective gear when it’s safe to do so.
- Avoid drinking caffeine or eating a heavy meal.
Employers must train workers so they understand heat-related illness, how it affects their health and how to prevent it.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion and light-headedness. A person who has these symptoms must be moved to a cool, shaded area and monitored closely. Give the person sips of water; fan them, mist them with cool water or wipe them with a wet cloth; and if they don’t feel better in a few minutes, call for emergency help. Heat exhaustion can quickly advance to heat stroke, a potentially deadly condition.
L&I offers many online resources, such as a sample accident prevention plan, training materials for supervisors and workers, and wallet cards with safety tips. In addition, employers may request a free workplace consultation if they need help identifying and fixing safety and health hazards.
You can get other information at L&I’s Summer Safety page.