Heat and Sun Safety

We hope you had a great break over the Xmas and New Year. Unfortunately for those who of us who had outdoor activities planned the weather was not the best. So now we are back at work and the true Northland summer is here so we need to talk and think about Heat and Sun Safety.

One of the dangers of working outdoors or in a hot environment is Heat Stress. This occurs when your body is not sweating adequately, you are in poor physical condition, you are not acclimatised to the heat, you are dressed inappropriately or you have not replaced fluids.

Symptoms can include:
Fatigue
Loss of concentration/disorientation
Dizziness
Headache
Muscle Cramps
In severe cases heatstroke (which can be life threatening) Always seek medical attention if you suspect heat exhaustion or heat stroke
In the workplace Heat Stress can lead to:
Inefficiency and absenteeism
Reduced work capacity and therefore lower productivity
Low concentration and high fatigue
Increased chance of personal injury
Increased incidence of damage to equipment
So how do we keep Cool?
Allow 7-10 days to acclimatize to working in heat again
Take frequent breaks and avoid heavy lifting
Drink fluids every 15-20 minutes – up to 1 litre an hour if doing heavy physical work (water and diluted juices are best)
Work in the shade if possible especially in the middle of the day
Schedule your heavy work for either early or late in the day
Wear loose cotton clothing
The other hazard of working outdoors is the danger of prolonged Sun Exposure which can lead to skin cancer. Most skin cancers happen on the hands, arms, head, neck and shoulders i.e. those parts most exposed to the sun. Sunscreen is not enough to give you total protection from the sun.

Other precautions you can take to protect yourself from the sun include:
Wearing proper outdoor work clothes including long sleeves and a collar. The fabric should have a close weave. Cover up on cloudy days too.
Protect your head and face with a wide brimmed hat
Protect your eyes with sunglasses
If possible rotate or change work times so you are not outside at the hottest times of the day
Consider this:
The best drink in hot weather is plain cool water. The worst thing you can drink in hot weather is Whiskey!!