Spending time outdoors in the spring and summer is great - unless you're toughing it out on a hot jobsite. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees F. The agency recommends that workers drink about 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes when working in hot conditions, and says shade and personal protective equipment should be provided and encouraged.
OSHA also recommends that crew members and supervisors keep an eye on each other - and especially on new employees. "If someone has not worked in hot weather for at least a week, their body needs time to adjust," says Mandy Edens, director of OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management. "Closely supervise new employees for the first 14 days or until they're fully acclimatized. Most heat-related worker deaths occur in the first three days on the job, and more than third occur on the very first day. New and temporary workers are disproportionately affected."
What should workers look for? Symptoms of heat stress include dizziness, headaches, cramps, and nausea. Heat stroke is further signified by hot and red skin, fainting, and confusion. Have crew members use a buddy system to check in with one another to call 911 in an emergency.
Whether your firm prefers to start work early so you can wrap up before the heat of the day, or to call in crews when the heat index reaches a certain point, here are eight products to improve work conditions and safety for those hours spent in the sun.
Condor Safety Products want crewmembers to keep a cool head on hot summer days with help from a variety of hard hat cooling products. The pads incorporate water-absorbing beads for cooling relief from the heat. Simply soak the pad in water for a few minutes to activate the beads, then attach to the hardhat with the product's webbing and hook-and-loop fastening tape. The product line includes round and ring-shaped pads that fit inside the hardhat, and a larger version that adds a neck shade (shown) for cooling relief and sun protection for the wearer. Products are priced under $10 each from Grainger. grainger.com
Make access to sunscreen easy for your employees with SunX 30+ broad-spectrum 30 SPF sunscreen in multipurpose-foil packets. Each two-part packet contains a sunscreen pouch and a dry applicator towelette. The sunscreen formula protects against UVA and UVB rays, and is rated water resistant for 80 minutes by the FDA. It also contains aloe vera and vitamin E, and is PABA- and oil-free. Choose from a variety of packaging options from 25 to 300 per pack. coretexproducts.com
Deb Group's Stokoderm Sun Protect 30 sunscreen is suitable for all skin types to protect against UVA and UVB rays with 30 SPF. The white, perfume-free cream is available in 100-ml (3.4 ounce) tubes that users can easily carry with them, or mount one of the maker's Stoko Sun 1000 dispensers with a 1-liter cartridge in communal areas on the jobsite for easy access. debgroup.com
Set up a sun-protected area on the jobsite with the Flagger Joe Umbrella Stand. The 68-inch square canopy is 100% waterproof and offers UV sun protection. The construction-orange color is repeated in the kit's two 18-inch warning flags, easily mounted in the double flag finial. The umbrella-only kit features a carry/storage bag with a zipper pouch and strap for easy portability. A larger kit with an umbrella base and 40-pound sandbag is also available. "Stop" and "slow" signs for jobsites that call for traffic management are sold separately. flaggerjoe.com
Keep plenty of cold water on hand with Igloo's newest hard-sided product line, Quantum. Available in three sizes - 12-, 28-, or 52-quart - the wheeled coolers feature Ultratherm insulation in the body, which helps keep ice frozen for up to five days. Molded-in side handles, durable wheels, and a telescoping/locking handle make it easy to load, unload, and move the cooler around the jobsite. Integrated tie-down loops let users attach extra gear to the top of the cooler. The 28-quart size can hold dozens of water bottles, plus snacks and lunches for break time. Many of Igloo's products, including personal and jobsite water jugs up to 10 gallons, can be customized with company logos and graphics for a special touch. igloocoolers.com
Safety comes first on jobsites, and special considerations should be made in the heat. To help offer safe working guidelines, OSHA offers its Heat Safety Tool app for both iOS and Android, keeping vital safety information right on your smartphone. The app lets workers and supervisors calculate heat index for their jobsite and display a risk level to outdoor workers. A simple click provides reminders about protective measures workers should take at that risk level. A Spanish-language version is also available when the user's phone is set to Spanish before downloading. osha.gov
Adding a layer of clothing may seem counter-intuitive in the heat, but TechNiche International's HyperKewl cooling fabric will make you a believer. The maker offers vests (shown), hats, neck bands, and more made from the specialized fabric that stays about 15 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature. Lightweight and easy to activate, the vest (shown) has a waterproof interior layer to keep clothing dry while the wearer stays cool for 5 to 10 hours. Adult sizes up to 3XL are available, and in multiple colors. techniche-intl.com