Thank you for joining us for this episode of Health and Safety To Go. Today we’re sharing some summer safety tips.
Warm and sunny summer months mean more time being spent outdoors. And whether you work or play in the great outdoors, you are at greater risk of illness and injury resulting from excessive sun exposure and extreme heat. However, there are precautions you can take to make your summer injury free.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause sunburn, premature skin aging, eye damage, skin cancer, and can weaken your immune system. When the UV index is 3 or higher, take the following precautions:
· Avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun, especially to the intense midday rays between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and be aware that you can get sunburn on a cloudy day.
· Look for shaded areas for outdoor activities where possible. When this is not possible , when working for example, set up shade structures or use umbrellas, buildings, trees, or canopies, to shield against direct rays from the sun.
· Cover and protect your skin by wearing a broad brimmed hat, lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. Wear UV blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes.
· Apply waterproof sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30, and UVA and UVB protection, to all exposed parts of your body. Re-apply every two hours and after sweating or swimming.
People who work outside or in hot environments, such as mines, agriculture fields, roofs, construction sites, and bakeries, are particularly at risk for, and need to know how to prevent, potentially serious heat-related illness. Heat stress is a buildup of body heat that without proper precautions can develop into heat exhaustion or heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition. As the internal body temperature increases, the heart rate rises and the body becomes overwhelmed.
Employers can take these steps to keep their workers safe:
· Evaluate the situation, and, if necessary, implement a heat stress control program.
· Manage work activities so that they match the employee's physical condition and the account for temperature.
· Train workers on the serious health risks of heat illness, how to avoid it, how to recognize the symptoms, and what to do if it happens.
· Keep workers cool. Allow some flexibility in work arrangements during hot conditions. If possible, schedule heavy tasks, and work that requires personal protective equipment (PPE), for cooler times such as early mornings or evenings.
· Keep the work area cool, or provide air-conditioned rest areas.
· Provide plenty of water for those who are working in the heat. Encourage them to drink even if they don't feel thirsty and to take frequent rest breaks.
There are also steps workers can take to prevent heat illness:
· Take time to acclimatize. It can take up to two weeks to build up a tolerance for working in hot conditions, so adapt your work and pace to the temperature, and pay attention to how you feel.
· Take breaks to cool off. This can be in the shade, or in an air-conditioned building or vehicle to help prevent your body from overheating. If you don't have a shady or cool place, slow down and reduce your physical efforts.
· Keep cool. Try to stay out of the sun as much as possible, and save physically demanding tasks for the early morning or late afternoon hours when the sun is less intense. Wear lightweight clothing and, if necessary, consider wearing a cooling vest to help keep your body temperature down.
· Stay hydrated. This is essential. As a general guideline, drink one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
· Avoid alcohol and drugs. If you are on medication, find out if it can cause your body to react to the sun and heat.
· Recognize the symptoms of heat stress in yourself and your co-workers. These symptoms include rash, cramping, fainting, excessive sweating, headache, and dizziness. You may not see or feel the effects so always use the buddy system to monitor one another.
Summer comes with some serious but preventable health risks associated with exposure to the sun and extreme heat. By being aware and taking some basic precautions, you can enjoy a safe, healthy summer.
For more information about protecting yourself from the sun and heat, visit www.ccohs.ca, thanks for listening everyone.