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Safety Tips: Preventing Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

But it’s a dry heat . . .

Though we serve clients nationwide (with offices in eight states), our corporate office is located in Phoenix, Arizona. That means we know a little something about the heat. Anyone who’s ever visited the Valley of Sun has probably heard a local say, “Sure, it’s hot, but it’s a dry heat.”

When you’re working outside (or in a confined space, as our scaffolders and insulators often do) it doesn’t matter whether the humidity is 10% or 80% — 115˚ is HOT.

Summer heat is unavoidable. Fortunately, the same cannot be said of heat illness. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be avoided — as always, the best medicine is prevention. Our friends at CAL-OSHA put together an infographic to help recognize and prevent the symptoms of heat illness.

Identify heat illness as exhaustion or heat stroke

STEP #1: RECOGNIZE

The sooner you can identify the symptoms, the easier heat illness will be to treat (catching it early means it’ll be less severe). These symptoms may be difficult to recognize; it’s important to keep an eye on your coworkers during the hot summer months. You might notice the symptoms before the person experiencing them does. Please note that you don’t need ALL of the symptoms to be suffering from a heat-related illness — every body reacts differently.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Sweaty skin
  • Weakness
  • Cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat

Symptoms of Heat Stroke:

  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • High body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Fainting

Heat Safety Tips: Water, Rest, Shade

STEP #2: WATER. REST. SHADE.

By the time our body registers that it’s thirsty by telling us to take a drink, we’re already mildly dehydrated. When you’re working in the sun, take a drink of water every 15 minutes. Rest in the shade for AT LEAST 5 minutes — that’s how long it takes your body to cool down. Wear light-colored clothing and ALWAYS wear a hat to keep the sun off your head (obviously, if you’re on a job site you should be wearing a hard hat anyway). Lastly, watch out for your coworkers. Make sure your buddy’s drinking water, too.

Heat Safety Tips: be prepared for an emergency

STEP #3: BE PREPARED — GET HELP RIGHT AWAY

If a crew member shows symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, immediately notify your superintendent. Call for an ambulance and administer first aid while waiting for help to arrive. Move the person to a shaded area and provide SMALL SIPS of water (unless the person is vomiting). Loosen his clothing and cool him off by putting ice packs (or clothing soaked in cold water) around his groin and underarms. Every second counts, so always know the location and address of your job site!

Prevent heat illness with a few simple steps

STEP #4: PREVENTION IS KEY

A little bit of preplanning can eliminate the risks of heat exhaustion from your job site. First and foremost: make sure water is available. Provide shady spots for the crew to take breaks. Look out for each other, especially in extreme weather conditions. And finally, incorporate heat safety into your safety training program.

Here at Liberty Industrial Group, every new hire receives safety training before they’re sent to the job site. Additionally, Liberty’s Safety App identifies potential hazards of each job site (like possible heat illness) and sends training modules to the workers in those areas. Ensuring our workforce is safe from the extreme heat is not only our responsibility, it makes good business sense. Our people are, after all, our most valuable asset.

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