Dog Days of Summer... What's That All About?

The Dog Days of Summer

According to National Geographic, the dog days of summer have nothing to do with dogs.  Apparently to the ancient Greeks and Romans the “dog days” occurred when the star Sirius appeared in the sky just before the sunrise in late summer.  Sirius is the nose of the dog in the constellation Canis Major which depicts a dog chasing a hare. 

As for most people, I’ve always thought of the dog days as the last hot days of a fading summer season.  Too hot even for the dogs.  So I’m going with this theme, but it also got me thinking about dogs and all the implications for workplace safety. 


Most of the country is embroiled in very hot weather- certainly worthy of the dog days moniker.  The tips below sound simple, but each day we see employees suffering from the effects of the heat and humidity.  Take a moment to be sure your employees are:

  • Provided with enough water and given appropriate breaks to deal with the heat.
  • Duties are rotated if necessary.
  • Given opportunities to get out of direct sunlight- shade under trees, in vehicles with air conditioning, or inside cooled buildings as often as needed. 
  • Properly dressed to include broad brimmed hats, sunglasses, and that sunscreen is used on any exposed skin. 

OSHA provides extensive resources for preventing heat related injuries


More than four million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S.  Children are the most common victims, but employees who work outside, enter customers’ property, or work with animals are certainly at risk.  At minimum these employees should be provided with awareness training on the topic.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention features tips on how to prevent dog bites and what to do if bitten or attacked. 


Working on your feet all day can really take a toll.  If your dogs are aching, check out these tips from WebMDDynamic workstations, also called sit/stand workstations, are growing in popularity.  It seems that any movement, even the minimal movement you might derive from standing, is better for us than sitting in static posture.  Just beware that static standing is not a great substitute for sitting and your feet might bear the brunt of this new posture.  Keep moving, take frequent breaks, and keep limber with gentle stretching. 

Of course OSHA has plenty to say about protecting your feet.  If you work in an industry where your feet are exposed to crushing, chemical, or tool hazards then foot protection is required.  PPE could include steel or composite toe protection, metatarsal guards, rubber boots, or even cut resistant boots. Pretty clear standards are promulgated in the 1910 and 192 standards. 


The title of an online article from Wood Magazine says it all:   Wood Magazine, “Man’s Best Friend in the Shop: Bench Dogs.”  Woodworking injuries are far too frequent.  Saw blades, sanding disks, or router bits can really do great work on wood, but can also make a mess of one’s fingers or other body parts.  Holding stock firmly to a workbench is one way to help keep the tools cutting the wood and not your flesh.  Always wear the proper PPE, keep tools sharp and well maintained, and keep the wood in place so the tool can do the job safely.    

As you can see, dogs can be our best friend, they can really hurt us, or they can be great tools.  I’m sure there are many other ways dogs could be used here, but for now let’s just leave it with, “Enjoy the dog days of summer safely” no matter what dog you’re dealing with. 

By Randy Klatt