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Basic heat safety for outdoor workers

In extreme heat, outdoor workers can wind up suffering an illness like heat exhaustion or even heat stroke, which can be life-threatening. If you’re a worker who is frequently outdoors in Connecticut, you want to protect yourself against the elements. Here are some tips.

The right foods and liquids

Experts recommend drinking 16 ounces of water before starting work. Afterwards, drink five to seven ounces every 15 or 20 minutes. No other liquid can substitute for water, not caffeinated soft drinks, tea or coffee. These other liquids will only dehydrate you. Regarding food, opt for fruits high in fiber and avoid foods high in protein.

Clothing and a good work pace

Your clothing should be lightweight and not fit tightly. Try not to wear dark-colored clothing as this will absorb more heat. Wear sunscreen and place a damp rag around the neck. Next, make sure to take frequent breaks and never rush through a job. Employers should provide a shaded or air-conditioned area for the break.

Recognizing heat-related illness

The onset of a heat-related illness will be recognizable. With heat exhaustion, for instance, you’ll start to sweat excessively and develop muscle cramps in the abdomen, arms and legs. With heat stroke, the opposite happens: You stop sweating altogether and have dry, reddish skin. You may experience chills and mental fogginess and slur your speech.

For victims of heat stress injuries

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be covered under workers’ compensation law as long as they are clearly work-related. You may want a lawyer to help you file your claim because whatever benefits you’re eligible for may not be paid out. The employer may try to find a way to deny the claim, in which case you would need to mount an appeal.

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