Summer Safety Precautions for Outdoor Workers
It’s June, and temperatures in Colorado Springs are approaching their peak. If you work outdoors, this time of year can be particularly busy. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, you may also face greater health and safety risks on the job this month than at other times of the year.
Your employer is responsible for making sure you are properly equipped, trained and protected against these risks, including carrying appropriate workers’ compensation insurance. You should also be proactive about your own health and safety and take precautions to minimize the chance of an illness or injury on the job.
Read on for an overview of some of the common risks outdoor workers might face this summer, as well as recommendations for avoiding and recovering from illness or injury.
If you work outdoors in the summer, you may be exposed to extreme heat or a hot environment for extended periods of time. Prolonged exposure to extreme heat may put you at risk of heat stress, which can result in dangerous or uncomfortable conditions including:
- Heat stroke – Heat stroke is a serious condition in which the body’s temperature rises to an unsafe level and the body loses the ability to cool itself down. Heat stroke can occur within a matter of minutes. If you experience symptoms such as confusion or slurred speech, loss of consciousness, hot and dry skin or seizures, act quickly. Seek emergency care, get to a shaded area and cool the skin immediately with cold, wet cloths or ice.
- Heat exhaustion – If you are working in the heat and experience symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, excessive sweating, or thirst, you may have heat exhaustion. If you notice these symptoms, get out of the heat, drink frequent sips of cool water and apply cold compresses to the head, face and neck. It may also help to remove unnecessary clothing such as shoes and socks.
- Heat cramps – Heat cramps occur due to loss of salts in the body. With heat cramps, you may experience muscle spasms or pain in your arms, legs or abdomen. If you suffer from heat cramps, drink water and supplement your salt levels with a snack and/or sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes.
Outdoor workers are at greatest risk of overexposure to sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the summer months. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause sunburn and can also change the structure of skin cells, which could lead to skin cancer. Exposure to UV rays can occur on cloudy days and may be exacerbated by certain medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Be aware if you are working in the sun and experience symptoms such as red, tender or swollen skin, headache, nausea, fever or fatigue. Although a sunburn must run its course, symptoms can be relieved with cool baths or wet cloths, drinking water, applying a topical moisturizer or sunburn relief gel and taking over-the-counter pain relievers.
Severe sunburns that cover more than 15 percent of the body, dehydration, extreme pain or fever over 101 degrees may require medical attention.
Hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses. Particularly if you are an outdoor worker in construction or road maintenance, you may be at high risk for noise-related injuries. If you are exposed to a certain level of noise as part of your job, your employer should provide you with protective equipment, such as soft foam earplugs and/or noise-reducing earmuffs. Your employer should also routinely test your hearing.
If you experience ringing, hissing, buzzing, pulsing or other noises in your ears when no other sounds are present, you may be suffering from hearing loss and should seek medical treatment.
Take Action: Let One of Our Colorado Springs Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Help You
When your job requires you to be outdoors for any length of time this summer, the three key words for avoiding overexposure to the elements are water, rest and shade. Take frequent breaks and rehydrate regularly to avoid illness or injury.
If you do suffer an exposure-related illness or injury on the job, you may be entitled to compensation to cover expenses and other associated costs, including disability benefits. Our Colorado Springs workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced at helping ill or injured workers get the compensation they deserve. Call us today at 719-471-3000 or schedule a free consultation online.