Summer's coming: Protect yourself from heat injuries at work

After a long winter, everybody starts to look forward to the summer -- unless you have to work in the heat. Rising temperatures can prove a significant challenge for a lot of workers, especially those who have to work outside with little protection from the sun on road crews, building construction and similar jobs.

Exposure to excessive amounts of heat -- especially if your body hasn't had time to acclimate to it -- can quickly lead to problems like heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Here are some of the most important things you and your employer can do to guard against these kinds of problems:

1. Stay hydrated

Even if you don't feel thirsty, keep sipping on water and other fluids throughout the day to replace what you're losing through sweat.

2. Take frequent breaks

Your employer should permit all employees to take occasional breaks and get out of the sun. Ideally, your employer will provide a tent or an air-conditioned trailer for breaks so that your body can cool down and recover.

3. Wear appropriate clothing

Dressing for outdoor work can be tricky because the morning temperature and the afternoon temperature can vary greatly. Choose loose clothing that's light, breathable and wear layers that can be peeled off as the day gets warmer.

4. Know the signs of trouble

You need to be able to recognize when a co-worker is in trouble, because someone suffering from heat-related illness may not recognize it themselves. Heat exhaustion usually manifests with weakness, wet skin, irritability or confusion, nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness or fainting. Any combination of those symptoms should be a cause for alarm. If a co-worker passes out, has a seizure, or is disoriented, he or she could be having heat stroke.

If someone on the job is in trouble due to the heat, take immediate action. Get him or her out of the sun, use ice or wet cloths to cool him or her down and call 911 for medical attention.

If you or your loved one fell victim to a heat-related injury while working, there may be compensation available. Find out more by exploring our website further or contacting our office for advice.

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