Working outdoors during the summer presents a number of hazards on and off the job, many of which are commonly overlooked.
Summer health risks and preventative measures include the following:
- Heat – Heat illness from exposure to high temperatures and humidity, as well as UV exposure, can lead to serious injuries/illnesses. When planning outdoor work activities try to minimize work during peak heat hours (roughly 3:00-4:30 pm during the summer) when possible. It is also important to wear proper clothing, stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and take frequent breaks.
- Weather – Summer weather can frequently produce thunderstorms, lightning, high winds, or even extreme weather conditions such as dust storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Weather conditions should be monitored when planning outdoor work activities.
- Insects – Stinging insects including bees, wasps or hornets can pose significant risks to outdoor work activity. West Nile or other viruses can be transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Ticks are more prevalent in warm weather and increase the chance of contracting Lyme disease. I have had first-hand experience with Lyme disease, as my younger son was diagnosed and treated for Lyme two years ago. Using bug repellant with DEET, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, and checking your body for ticks after outdoor work activity are just a few precautions to help protect against exposure to ticks or other insects.
- Environment – Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are all plants that can cause a temporary, irritating rash when they come in contact with your skin. Learn to recognize these plants in order to avoid contact with them. Wear protective clothing that covers your skin, including gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and boots if you are in a high-risk area.
Being informed and aware of summertime outdoor work hazards, including how to identify them and how to avoid them is the first step in helping to protect yourself against them.