Working outside during the summer months can be tricky. Whilst you might assume that the summer months will make your life easier (after all, better weather often means jobs can be completed quicker), sometimes it can be quite the opposite.
In terms of outdoor commercial paving work, the best weather tends to be springtime or early autumn. When the weather is consistently dry, but not too hot or humid. During the summertime, temperatures can often reach 25 degrees or more, and that can make working outside in the sunshine all day unpleasant or even dangerous.
How to avoid heat stroke when working outside.
Heat stroke is a serious complaint amongst outdoor workers in the summer, and it’s something that can keep you away from work for a few days if you get it badly.
Heat stroke is the sensation in the body that occurs when the body no longer sweats, because a maximum temperature has been reached. Heat stroke is a sign that your body is too hot, and that your body temperature has reached dangerous levels.
Symptoms of heat stroke are listed below:
- Dry, hot reddish skin and lack of sweating
- High body temperature
- Strong, rapid pulse
- Slurred speech
The key to heat stroke, is prevention – which we’ll discuss below. But it’s always worth keeping an eye on all your colleagues and co-workers to ensure they’re also following these tips too. Knowing what to look out for when spotting heat stroke can also help you identify it early on, and assist if necessary and removing people from the heat when possible too.
How can you ensure your safety whilst working outdoors this summer?
You’ll want to brush up on these tips to make sure you’re protected from the sun, and the heat, and also to make sure that the heat doesn’t affect how well you do your job.
Tip 1: Stay hydrated.
The main thing you’ll want to ensure during the hot summer days, is ensuring your staying hydrated. If you’re working outside in hot temperatures, your body will need more fluids than normal, because you’ll need to be cooling yourself down more frequently – and your body needs water to do this. Aim to drink 2 cups of water an hour if possible. A good way to check your hydration levels is to not the colour of your urine. The darker your urine, the less hydrated you are. Use this as a parameter throughout the day, during your toilet breaks, to check how much more liquid you need to be consuming.
Tip 2: Wear lightweight clothing
The right clothing choices can make a huge difference on hot days. You’ll want to wear lightweight clothing, ideally in light colours too (as lighter colours reflect the sun, rather than attract it). Loose fitting items are usually good too, as you’ll then get airflow around your body, which can help in keeping you cooler. Natural, breathable fabrics are also a good choice too, such as linen or cotton.
Tip 3: Time your jobs for cooler times of the day
Save the biggest jobs for the evening (when the sun has gone down) or do them first thing in the morning before the height of heat at midday. Temperatures in the morning or evening might be up to 5 degrees cooler (sometimes more) which can have a big impact in how difficult a job feels.
Tip 4: Take it easy
We know you won’t want to sit back and relax, but don’t try and do too much too soon or too fast. Your working pace should slow down considerable in the heat, because any physical labour will feel harder in high temperatures. This is understandable, and don’t put pressure on yourself to push too hard.
Tip 5: Schedule frequent breaks
Especially in the heat of midday sun, make sure you’re taking regular breaks to sit in the shade and cool off. Take the break as a chance to cool off, wash your face with cold water, and enjoy some shade or air-conditioning.
Tip 6: Avoid getting sunburn
The last thing you want to be worried about in the heat, is sunburn. Sunburn will make you feel hotter, and it’ll make you more on-edge and uncomfortable too. Ensure you’re not as risk by purchasing high factor protection (factor 30 minimum, if you’re outside all day) and ensure you’re covering sensitive areas like your face with a double protection such as a hat. Remember to apply your sunscreen too! You’ll likely want to reapply it 2 or 3 times throughout the day, especially if you’re sweating a lot during work.
Tip 7: Avoid direct sunlight
If you can avoid direct sunlight, and station yourself in the shaded area for most of the day, this will help reduce your risk of heat stroke or sunburn. Keep an eye on your colleagues too, and ensure no-one is spending too much time in direct sunlight. If you can rotate jobs, so that everyone gets a chance to be stationed in the shade, that’ll help keep everyone’s risk much lower.