Keeping Cool on the Job
Here are five simple ways to keep cool on the job site when the temperature goes above 90 degrees.
Water works. When it’s hot, make sure you’re putting fluids in for all of the sweat you’re putting out. That means for every 15 minutes of moderate labor you do, you’ll need 6-8 ounces of water or non-caffeinated beverage to stay hydrated. Consider adding a sports drink into your beverage rotation to help restore nutrients and electrolytes. Energy drinks don’t count in the heat. Why? They pull water out of you faster than you can put it in. If you have to have caffeine first thing in the AM, make sure you chase it with plenty of water.
Go light or go home. Fuel up at lunchtime, but go easy on the high-fat, big meal lunches. Not only will you get sleepier and slower, your body has a harder time keeping you cool when it’s busy breaking down a big lunch. Eating smaller portions more often can also help your body keep working steadily throughout the day.
Take a Break
Summertime siestas make sense. Taking time off during the hottest part of the day can prevent heatstroke and injuries. Whenever possible, schedule heavy outdoor work for cooler times of the day, such as early mornings or even at night.
Shade the day and set up cooling stations. Not every worksite will have air conditioning or an area where you and your crew can get out of the sun, so come prepared and make your own. Bring awnings or tarps and set up a makeshift shade station. Place fans strategically around the area to help maintain airflow. For bigger jobs that provide on-site mobile offices, share the air conditioning. Parcel part of the office for a lunch or break area, and give everyone a chance to cool off and re-fuel.
Light reflects light. Make company shirts light-colored to help reflect the sun and keep your people cooler. Make sure those shirts are in a breathable material, too. New materials can help wick away sweat and keep workers more comfortable.
Be on the lookout for signs of heat exhaustion. Typical symptoms are dizziness, disorientation, lethargy, slurred speech and problems walking, moving or handling tools. Take time for more breaks and make sure everyone is safe, even when the temperature gets hot.