Safety Tips for Outdoor Workers
Summer in New England means construction season, and many workers find themselves outside and on the roads. Unfortunately, being outdoors for long periods of time also comes with a long list of risks. Here are the three of the most common warm-weather related dangers that can effect workers during the summer months.
Heat Stroke & Exhaustions
There are several heat-related illnesses that outdoor workers can be exposed to. These include, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and even heatstroke (the most severe).
When the body loses an excessive amount of salt and water, heat exhaustion can set in.
Symptoms are similar to those of the flu and can include severe thirst, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting and, sometimes, diarrhea. Other symptoms include profuse sweating, clammy or pale skin, dizziness, rapid pulse and normal or slightly elevated body temperature. Uncontrolled heat exhaustion can evolve into heatstroke, so it is important to make sure it is treated quickly.
Heatstroke can occur when the ability to sweat fails and body temperature rises quickly.
Someone experiencing heat stroke will have extremely hot skin, and an altered mental state, ranging from slight confusion to coma and may even experience seizures. Ridding the body of excess heat is crucial for survival. Here’s what you can do if you or a co-worker experience heat stroke…
- Move the person into a half-sitting position in the shade
- Call for emergency medical help immediately
- If humidity is below 75%, spray the victim with water and fan them vigorously; if humidity is above 75%, apply ice to neck, armpits or groin
- Do not give aspirin or acetaminophen
- Do not give the victim anything to drink
Ticks & Mosquitoes
Ticks and mosquitoes are becoming a major issue here in New England. Last year’s tick season was one of the worst on record and with warmer than average winter temps, ticks are surviving all year round. It’s important for employers to identify jobs that will put outdoor workers at greater risk for contracting tick and mosquito borne illnesses.
If a worker has contracted a Vector-borne Disease like Lime or West Nile Virus, some of their symptoms can include:
- Body/muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Stiff neck
Employers should provide education about the risks of these vector-borne diseases and what workers can do to avoid them. They should also supply mosquito repellant and furnish clothing treated with permethrin, an insecticide. If you believe you’ve worked in a tick prone area, it’s important to perform a daily tick check.
Highway & Road Construction Work Zone Safety
Roadwork season results in a lot more construction workers out on our highways & local roadways. Sadly, work zone fatalities reached a 16-year high in 2020.
Daily changes in traffic patterns, narrowed rights-of-way, and other construction activities often create a combination of factors resulting in crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
In addition to vehicular crashes and fatalities, the leading cause of death in the road and bridge construction sector are run overs, back overs, and falls. Here are some ways workers can stay safe inside a work zone:
- The proper safety equipment should be worn by all personnel inside the work zone. Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes hard hats, steel-toed boots and highly visible clothing.
- All PPE should meet or exceed the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) developed standards.
- Workers should avoid walking behind any vehicles that may be backing up or into the swing radius of heavy equipment.
- Whenever possible, you should face traffic while inside the work zone or have a spotter available when your back is turned.
If you any questions regarding summer safety, feel free to contact our Risk Management Team at [email protected]
For more information, check out these additional resources:
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