With record-setting hot weather expected in much of the state this week, the Department of Labor & Industries is urging both employers and workers to take precautions to prevent heat-related illness.
Workers exposed to extreme heat may experience heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, fainting, nausea and other symptoms. Heat-related illness can rapidly escalate to heat stroke, which can be fatal.
Roofing, highway construction and agricultural work are just a few of the jobs across Washington in which workers are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses when temperatures rise.
People who work outdoors in hot weather should follow these five tips to beat the heat:
1. Drink a lot of water. Start work well hydrated and try to drink a cup every 15 minutes.
2. Keep an eye on your co-workers. Watch those working around you for signs of heat-related illness, including headaches, dizziness or nausea.
3. Don’t overdo it. Pace your work and take scheduled breaks in the shade.
4. Wear lightweight clothing and remove protective gear when it’s safe to do so.
5. Limit caffeine and avoid heavy meals.
Employers with workers who work outdoors must train employees and supervisors to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness and the steps to take if someone shows symptoms. Employers are also required to provide plenty of water for workers, respond appropriately to any employee with symptoms of illness, and include heat-related-illness hazards in the company’s accident prevention program.
Along with the direct health effects of working in extreme heat, heat-related illness can contribute to injuries by causing workers to become fatigued, dizzy, confused or disoriented on the job. That can lead to falls, equipment operation accidents and other on-the-job incidents.