Summer means many things to us here at Madison: more jobs, more fun and more employees exposed to the sun, heat and humidity. We want to ensure our employees return home safely… without a detour to the hospital due to heat-related illness. With virtually all of the United States experiencing above-normal temperatures over the past weeks, we wanted to remind everyone to follow these simple tips to keep your crews safe and cool on the job during these warm, summer months.
Drink more water, not caffeine!
Hydration is key to avoiding heat stress. Avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks that can lead to dehydration. Encourage your team to drink small amounts of water often, even when not thirsty. One cup every 15 to 20 minutes should be sufficient. Provide cool drinking water in convenient locations.
Take breaks in the shade
Provide air-conditioned or shaded break areas close to the work area and enforce rest breaks. A temporary shelter can be a trailer, tent, parking garage or under the shade of trees or buildings.
Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing
Provide light-colored hard hats with brims that shade the face and encourage workers to wear breathable (cotton), light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Long sleeves are better than short. Personal cooling apparel also can help, such as cooling vests with pockets for cold packs and either cooling or water-dampened bandanas, towels and other gear.
Whenever possible, save the “heavy lifting” for the cooler morning hours. And where possible, set up shade canopies over work areas exposed to direct sunlight. Also consider earlier start times or evening and night shifts.
To help determine when the above tactics are needed, download OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool app, which allows anyone to calculate the heat index for a jobsite and the risk level for outdoor workers. And to learn more about staying safe and cool on the jobsite, check out OSHA’s Water. Rest. Shade. (#WaterRestShade) campaign.