Preventing Summer Workplace Injuries
Summer officially starts this month, which means temperatures are rising here in the Lowcountry. Meteorologists predict that temperatures will rise upwards of 100°F. These high temperatures can be especially dangers to people who work outside, potentially leading to serious injuries, illnesses, and even worse.
A 2015 study found that South Carolina had one of the highest rates of nonfatal injuries and illnesses from environmental heat. Taking precautions against heat-related injuries is particularly important for people working outdoors here in the south.
Learn more about summer workplace injuries and how you can prevent them:
Common Heat-Related Injuries
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more water than it is taking in, and is extremely common when working outside in the heat. While dehydration is common, it can become serious and result in fainting, urinary and kidney problems, and even seizures.
Heat stroke is caused by prolonged physical exertion in high temperatures, causing your body to overheat. Symptoms include fainting, confusion, high body temperature, as well as excessive sweating and/or redness.
Heat rash occurs when sweat glands become blocked and sweat cannot reach the surface of the skin to evaporate, producing a cluster of red bumps or blisters on the skin. Heat rash most commonly occurs when working in a hot, humid environment, and typically heals on its own.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion includes heavy sweating, a rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, fainting, nausea, and thirst.
Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms often resulting from the loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps most commonly occur in the legs, arms, and abdomen.
Tips for Preventing Summer Workplace Injuries
One of the best ways to prevent heat-related injuries at work is to stay hydrated. By replenishing your body with the water it needs, you can avoid complications from dehydration and stabilize your body temperature.
Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing
Clothing that fits too tightly to your body traps heat, making it harder for your body to maintain a healthy body temperature. By wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, you can help your body better regulate its temperature and let heat escape. And stay away from dark-colored clothing, which absorbs light and heat more so than light-colored clothes.
In addition to the heat-related injuries listed above, working outside in the summer also puts your skin at risk of overexposure to UV and UVB rays. Protect your skin by always wearing sunscreen, reapplying throughout the day. Make sure you are using waterproof and sweatproof sunscreen.
When working in hot weather, make sure you take plenty of breaks to help your body recover from overheating. If you begin to feel dizzy or lightheaded while working, immediately sit down in a cool, shady spot and drink plenty of water. Even if you aren’t feeling symptoms of a heat-related injury, you should still take plenty of breaks throughout the day.
Employers need to do their part to prevent workplace injuries as well. By providing water, fans, plenty of time for breaks, and appropriate training, employers can help reduce the number of workplace injuries occurring on their watch.
This summer, make sure you are staying safe in the heat. If you’ve suffered an on the job injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Our personal injury attorneys help injured individuals across South Carolina seek the compensation they deserve. Contact the John Price Law Firm today for a free initial consultation.