Safety tips for working outside

Eye protection is important when working outside, but there are many other safety precautions to consider.

Following are some tips from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for working outside in the sun and heat:

  • Wear appropriate clothing. Employees should wear light, loose-fitting clothing. To avoid harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Wear a hat with a wide brim (not a baseball cap) to protect your neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp.
  • Apply plenty of sunscreen; an SPF of at least 15 blocks 93 percent of UV rays.
  • Take breaks. When working in the heat, employers should provide plenty of water and breaks during which to drink it. Drink small amounts frequently rather than a lot of water at once. If work is particularly strenuous and takes place in direct sunlight, workers should be given regular breaks in a "shade tent" or other rest area.
  • Watch for signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Some outdoor jobs involve high temperatures, high humidity and physical exertion and increase the risk of workers suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Some warning signs are headaches, lightheadedness, confusion, irrational behavior, loss of consciousness, abnormally high body temperature and hot, dry skin.
  • In hot conditions, reduce physical demands by reducing physical exertion such as excessive lifting, climbing or digging with heavy objects. Minimize overexertion and use relief workers or assign extra workers.
  • While working at high energy levels, monitor workers who are at risk of heat stress, such as those wearing semi-permeable or impermeable clothing, when the temperature exceeds 70 F. Personal monitoring can be performed by checking heart rate, recovery heart rate and oral temperature.
  • Eat smaller meals before work activity.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol or large amounts of sugar.
  • Find out from your health care provider if your medications don't mix well with sun exposure and heat.
  • Know that equipment such as respirators or work suits

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to Safe Solutions.