As summer approaches, many workers across various industries eagerly embrace the opportunity to do more of their work outdoors – and some industries, like agriculture and landscaping – pretty much require it.
However, it’s crucial for outdoor workers to be aware of the potential hazards that come with outdoor work at this time of year and to take steps to prevent serious injuries.
Working under the scorching sun for prolonged periods can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These conditions can be life-threatening if not properly addressed. If you work outside:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Take regular breaks in shaded areas or air-conditioned spaces.
- Wear lightweight, breathable clothing.
- Use sunblock to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
If you’re not used to working in the heat, ask your employer if you can work a few partial or split shifts until your body acclimates to the weather.
Sunburn and skin damage
Extended exposure to the sun can cause sunburn, premature aging and an increased risk of skin cancer. Protect yourself by:
- Applying sunscreen with a high SPF regularly.
- Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to shield your face and eyes from direct sunlight.
- Using appropriate protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Seeking shade whenever possible, especially during peak sunlight hours.
If you get a sunburn at work and develop severe pain, a fever, chills, nausea or have widespread blistering of your skin, seek immediate medical care to prevent the situation from becoming more serious.
Outdoor work often involves physically demanding tasks, leading to a higher risk of strains, sprains and overexertion. To minimize the likelihood of these injuries:
- Use proper lifting techniques, bending your knees and lifting with your legs.
- Take regular breaks and avoid overexertion by pacing yourself.
- Use ergonomic tools and equipment to reduce strain on your body.
Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the best safeguards against specific hazards in your work environment.
Insect bites and allergies
Working outdoors exposes you to insects such as biting ants, bees and wasps, which can cause painful allergic reactions. Protect yourself by:
- Wearing insect repellent and clothing that covers exposed skin.
- Checking your work area for nests or hives before starting any task.
Know the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions and seek immediate medical attention if necessary.
By prioritizing safety, you can improve the odds of a productive and injury-free summer in your outdoor workplace. If you are injured, however, remember that workers’ comp is almost certainly available to provide the benefits and compensation you’ll need.