Enjoy the Summer Safely

It may be hard to visualize this, considering the recent rain we’ve seen in the northeast, but it's the time of the year when we should be working outside and enjoying the warm weather. 

Landscapers, gardeners, arborists, and the construction tradesmen are busy, but hopefully we can also enjoy a round of golf, yard work, or other recreational activity. Protecting the skin and eyes against the sun is one of the best things you can do to protect your future health.  Solar radiation is strongest between 10:00am and 3:00pm, so it’s especially important to protect your skin against the sun during these hours.

Heat cramps, exhaustion, and heat stroke also pose a threat to outdoor workers in the summer season.  These maladies are combined under the term “heat illness”.  According to OSHA, “The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn't enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.” Check out their online resource entitled, “OSHA’s Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness.”

Here are some hints to reduce your risk: 

  • Limit your time in the sun when possible.  If the job requires workers to be exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods, then ensure they take appropriate breaks in shaded areas.  Try at least a few minutes in the shade each hour.
  • Liberally apply sunscreen on the face, neck, hands, forearms, ears, and any other unprotected skin area. Use a product with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or more.  Put sunscreen on before heading outside and you may have to apply more during the day.
  • Eye damage can also result from prolonged exposure to the sun.  Always wear sunglasses that filter out at least 90 percent of the sun's ultraviolet rays.
  • Wearing a hat will also reduce exposure to the sun and reduce dehydration as the day wears on.
  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Monitor employees regularly; look for signs of dehydration or over exposure. 

Additional prevention and treatment information is available from the Mayo Clinic or your preferred medical provider.  Enjoy the summer weather, but always respect the power of Mother Nature.