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News & Insights

Heat Safety & Hydration Awareness: Hot Topics for Safe Jobsites

W.E. O’Neil is proud to recognize safety as part of our core values and is committed to building a safety mindset in our culture and on our jobsites. As we enter the summer months and temperatures continue to climb, preventing heat-related illnesses on jobsites is a top safety priority. This starts with education on the most common symptoms and treatments and extends to actionable steps to prepare for working in warmer conditions.

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke

Anyone can experience heat-related illnesses, and when left untreated, they can lead to a life-threatening emergency.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two of the most common types and share some of the same indicators. So, how can you identify the difference? Becoming familiar with the symptoms of each is key to a quicker response and treatment.

Heat exhaustion symptoms can include pale skin, muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and increased heart rate. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should stop work, move to a cool place, and hydrate by taking small sips of water or an electrolyte drink.

Symptoms of heat stroke include fainting, throbbing headache, dizziness, lack of sweating, vomiting, or behavioral changes such as confusion. Unlike heat exhaustion, which can be treated without the help of a medical professional, heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention. If you suspect someone is having a heat stroke, call 911 immediately and move the person to a cool place until help arrives.

Avoiding Heat Illness

While high temperatures and humidity during the summer months are unavoidable, there are ways to reduce the risk of heat illness and stay safe:

  • Stay hydrated: Every sip is crucial when working in extreme heat conditions. Hydration starts the night before you are on the jobsite and should continue throughout the workday. Increasing your water consumption and limiting your consumption of beverages with caffeine, sugar, and alcohol is vital in maintaining an appropriate hydration level.
  • Take frequent breaks: Short breaks throughout the day can allow your body time to recover from the heat. Prioritize taking 5-10 minutes breaks.
  • Keep cool: Air conditioning is not an option on many jobsites, so finding a shaded area can be a good alternative for cooling down. Wearing light-colored breathable clothes can also aid in staying cool.
  • Use the buddy system: Keep an eye on those around you. Encourage each other to drink water and take breaks as needed. If you notice someone experiencing heat illness related symptoms, take appropriate action to ensure they get help.

Stay safe and cool this summer! With the right preparation, heat-related illnesses can be prevented.