Water, rest, shade. Three simple, yet important, words that headline the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s heat stress awareness campaign.
Hot weather means the human body must work harder to keep cool, especially in high humidity. Outdoor workers are the most susceptible to heat illness, which can “range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” according to OSHA. In the most extreme cases, heat stroke can lead to death.
It is important for outdoor workers to build up a tolerance for working in these conditions. Those who are new to outdoor summer labor or those who are return from a vacation that has kept them out of the heat should gradually increase their workload until they are acclimated to the temperature and humidity.
There are many ways for farmers and ranchers to beat the heat this summer. OSHA suggests the following:
- Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
- Rest in the shade to cool down.
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
- Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
- Keep an eye on fellow workers.
- “Easy does it” on your first days of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.
Employers of outdoor workers are also encouraged to establish a heat illness prevention program, which includes adding rest breaks into the work day and training workers to look for signs of heat illness.
Special thanks for the Arizona Farm Bureau for recommending this important health and safety tip. For more information on OSHA’s recommendation for heat exposure, visit www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/.