Thousands of workers are injured every year by entirely manageable hazards that arise from outdoor work, particularly in the summer heat. Employees can enhance their safety by following a few simple recommendations.

With the heat outdoors there are a host of occupational hazards for those who will be working outdoors, such as landscapers and construction workers. It is true that worker’s compensation and personal injury law will compensate you for the illnesses and injuries that result from many of these hazards.
But wouldn’t it be better to simply avoid harm in the first place?

Outdoor work is often an economic necessity, even in the summer. What you can do, however, is anticipate problems before they arise and institute sensible safety precautions. Following is a very abbreviated list of some of the hazards you might face while working outside and some of the precautions you should consider.

Heat Stress: “Heat stress” is a catch-all term that includes various heat-related dangers such as heat stroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat rash. Recommendations:

  • Limit your time in the heat by implementing a schedule that allows you to “switch off” with your co-worker.
  • Arrange for you and your co-worker to periodically monitor each other for symptoms of heat stress.
    Keep water readily available throughout your worksite.

Sun Exposure: Fair-skinned workers are particularly vulnerable to sun exposure, even on cloudy days. Recommendations:

  • Concentrate outdoor work outside of the 10 am to 4 pm “sunburn window.”
  • Take the liberal advantage of shaded or indoor break areas.
  • Use a form of sunscreen that is appropriate to your complexion.

Noise: Although noise pollution is not directly related to hot weather, it tends to occur more frequently during the warmer months when outdoor work is at its peak. Permanent hearing loss is a frequent consequence. Recommendations:

  • Wear earplugs and earmuffs when noise levels rise to an average of 85 decibels (about the level of a food blender) over any 8-hour period.
  • Frequently switch off with your co-workers to reduce the length of time you are exposed to noisy environments.

Bio-hazards (poisonous plants and animals): Common bio-hazards include poison ivy, poisonous spiders, venomous snakes and insects carrying infectious diseases. Recommendations:

  • Wear protective clothing such as long sleeves. Naturally, this clothing should be heat-reflective.
  • Educate yourself on local bio-hazards (which spiders are poisonous, etc.)
  • Trim tall grasses in outdoor work areas.

Diseases Carried by Insects: Insects can carry various diseases, including the Zika virus and Lyme disease. Recommendations:

  • Wear long-sleeved heat-reflective clothing.
  • Spend some time on the Internet learning how to protect yourself against insect-borne diseases.
  • Use appropriate insect repellents.

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