It’s finally warm outside, the sun is shining and business is picking up. It’s summer, a time for enjoying outdoor spaces and creating the perfect outdoor space for your clients.
But summer also brings a new wave of safety concerns, especially for people who spend much of their time outside. If not addressed, heat-related illnesses can become heat stroke, which has killed more than 30 landscape workers annually since 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (2012).
Of course, you know to wear closed-toe shoes and eye protection to prevent injury. But in the summer sun, there are other considerations you should make to ensure your safety while working.
Slather on some sunscreen. It won’t help you beat the heat, but it will protect you from the sun. During the summer, many stores have sunscreen on display right by the register – add a bottle to your next purchase! Make sure to grab a bottle labeled SPF 30 or higher and broad-spectrum, which will cover you from both UVA and UVB rays. Both UVA and UVB rays cause skin cancer, but UVA rays age your skin and UVB rays cause sunburns. And reapply; no matter the sun protection factor (SPF), sunscreen typically doesn’t last for longer than two hours.
Wear a long-sleeved shirt. A long-sleeved shirt can protect you from sunburns and exposure to direct sunlight. Ewing customers are able to purchase long-sleeved shirts in ash gray or safety green with their logo to outfit their crew, through its Dyno Brand T-shirt Program. This annual program runs through July 2013.
Don a hat. In addition to sunscreen, a hat can protect your face and neck from the sun’s damaging rays. “Hats are a must because heads and necks will lose heat and create overheating faster than any other body part,” said Charley Miller, branch manager of Ewing’s North Las Vegas location.
Grab some shades. A pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the bright sun while you work, and can take some of the glare off.
Drink water. You’ve heard it before: eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. While the exact amount may vary, this is an important part of staying hydrated in the summer heat while working outside. Grab a big bottle of water in the morning and keep drinking and refilling it throughout the day. “Stay hydrated,” is the advice Mike Mackey, manager at Ewing’s Surprise, Ariz., location, gives to his customers on their way back to the job site.
Know the warning signs. Thousands of workers suffer heat-related illnesses across the country each summer. These illnesses range from heat rash – a skin irritation from sweating – to heat exhaustion – rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse. The most severe illness is heatstroke, with warning signs ranging from body temperature above 106 degrees, dry skin and a rapid pulse to dizziness and confusion. More than 20 percent of heatstroke cases end in death. If you notice any of these signs, get to a shady area and sip water slowly. If symptoms are severe or you think it may be heatstroke, seek emergency medical attention.
If you don’t protect yourself and your crew against the sun and make sure everyone stays hydrated, you can be exposed to serious risks. Stay hydrated, cool and safe in the sun this summer!