8 Simple Tips for Summer Safety

Warm weather and plenty of daylight make summer a busy season for construction. But with hotter temperatures and longer days come increased health and safety risks.

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Caterpillar Inc.

By Lonnie Fritz, Senior Market Professional, Construction Industries, Caterpillar Inc.

Warm weather and plenty of daylight make summer a busy season for construction. But with hotter temperatures and longer days come increased health and safety risks. Here are eight common-sense tips to help keep you and your team on the job all summer long.

1.     Drink more. Fluids — especially water — are your best defense against heat. Make sure all workers have water on hand and keep coolers available for refills. If plain water isn’t your thing, squeeze in some lemon or lime or opt for sports drinks that replenish electrolytes lost when you sweat.

2.      Eat right. High-fat, greasy meals like burgers and fries weigh you down, and your body uses more energy to digest them. Choose a light and filling meal — like a sandwich, salad and fruit — that both curbs hunger and helps you stay alert.

3.      Dress light. In addition to any required safety gear, wear clothing that’s light-colored, loose and breathable. It will reflect sunlight and make it easier for heat to escape, keeping you cool as you work. For further protection, wear a hat or sunglasses and reapply sunscreen throughout the day.

4.      Rest up. Sleep gives your body time to heal and energize for the next day, allowing you to handle the heat better. Aim for at least eight hours a night to make sure you get enough REM sleep. It may help to make your bedroom dark and cool, using curtains and fans if necessary.

5.      Schedule smart. Plan labor-intensive outdoor work for mornings and evenings, the coolest times of the day. Schedule lunch breaks and indoor work during the hottest part of the afternoon — generally between noon and 3 p.m.

6.      Take breaks. Step away from the job periodically to keep cool and avoid overheating. If there’s no natural shade on your jobsite, provide some for workers with umbrellas or an awning. To get the most out of a break, stay outside rather than retreating into the air conditioning — radical shifts from hot to cold back to hot again make it harder for your body to adjust.

7.      Pay attention. As you’re working, be mindful of how you feel and keep an eye out for others. Heat-related illnesses can hit fast and without much warning, and they can be deadly. Look out for these symptoms and bring affected workers into the shade to rehydrate (and call 911 if necessary):

  • Hot skin without sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Heat cramps
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Slurred speech
  • Mental confusion
  • Body temperature of 104 degrees or higher
  • Loss of consciousness

8.      Talk it out. Here’s an easy way to educate employees on heat safety so they know what to look for in themselves and others. Download this Toolbox Talk from the Caterpillar Safety Services team for a quick refresher on heat exhaustion and stroke causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment.

Summer safety isn’t rocket science — but a reminder of the basics never hurts, particularly at the start of the season. Here’s some more detail to share with your team on preventing heat illness, plus steps for protecting your machines from the heat, too. Stay cool, healthy and productive out there!