Working in the Heat

by | Aug 11, 2013 | Safe Practices | 0 comments

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Our New Sun Shade

We here in Boise are always dealing with some sort of climactic situation. The joke is … “if you don’t like the weather, just wait a half an hour and it will be totally different!”

We range from the one teens down into the negative double digits. Often it takes some sort of clever means to keep my employees comfortable and safe. As humans our optimal operating temperature is in the 60’s to low 80’s, but that is only the norm for a few weeks out of the year.

Here are some solutions we have come up with to deal with the heat end of the spectrum.

Right this moment, we are dealing with the extreme heat day after day. Diane came up with a simple quick fix for us. It’s a portable sun shade a la Home Depot. It was a huge relief for everyone involved.

Other hot climate solutions include:

    • Light colored T-Shirts made from natural fibers
    • Large brim hats,
    • Lots of water, (you should be urinating every 2 hours.)
    • Gatorade or some other electrolyte replacement solution. (Howard suggests, diluting the Gatorade 50/50 with water, which splits the calorie intake in half and still tastes fine.) This reminds me of how we dilute anti-freeze for best results.
    • Meter your caffeinated drinks as they are a diuretic and nothing good comes from an overdose of stimulants.
    • Sweating is our natural way of cooling ourselves, and having wind pass over your sweat and evaporating is our natural way of cooling off. Confining clothing and stagnant air are counterproductive to this system.

There is a tenancy to want to drink soft drinks or rehydrate, but they are loaded with sugar and high in calories. These, among other drawbacks like caffeine, are not a replacement for what you are sweating out. An overdose can flip you into an irregular heart rhythm. Those with a propensity for kidney stones should also steer clear of dark colas because there may be a link between the two.

The general rule is that if your urine is dark or has a strong odor, you are not drinking enough. Water is your best rehydration beverage of all.

I have been to job sites littered with Monster cans, 5 hour energy bottles and Jolt drink cans. These are an unsustainable means of getting the body to be alert. Good nutrition and sleep are basic requirements for optimum performance.

Diane Cooling Off

Diane Cooling Off

In our most recent safety meeting, we asked each other and discussed: “How do you know when it is time to stop working due to heat?” We tried to come up with some number in degrees when we just wouldn’t work outdoors. We couldn’t do it because everyone has a slightly different metabolism and heat tolerance.

When to Stop the Line?

The synopses is that the actual temperature makes no difference. If you or someone you see working is suffering in any way, be it dizziness, nausea, cramping, confusion, headache, or whatever symptom, you must be on a heightened state of alert that it may be related to a heat illness. Stop what you are doing and cool off. Laying in the shade, raising your feet and having a breeze flow over you will solve most problems,

If you’ve stopped sweating and are very hot, or have an altered level of consciousness, this could be related to a severe heat injury and EMS needs to get involved.

Everyone has the responsibility to say Stop the Line! to themselves or each other.

The conclusion among the group was that our personal wellbeing is more important than any task we might have to do. The same thing goes for our subcontractors. Life is too short to be pressured into doing things unsafely.

Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261

Disclaimer: Some of these images came from the WEB. If they are yours, and you object to them being used, please claim them and I will gladly remove and replace them at once.

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