Working in Heat: Safety Tips

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Working hard outside isn’t most people’s favorite thing to do on a hot day — the beach is a thing, after all — but there’s a whole lot of work to get done, nonetheless. So, if you’re out working a construction project, collecting waste bins, working the airport tarmac or doing one of the many other jobs that require being out in the heat, it’s crucial to know how to do it safely! Up ahead, we’ll talk about seven of the most important safety concepts for anybody working in heat. From sun safety to hydration and beyond, get ready for our top summer safety tips!

1. Wear SPF 30+ sunscreen and sun protection gear.

Protecting yourself against sunburn should be a high priority — after all, sunburn won’t just make your life miserable; it can raise your lifetime risk of skin cancer. Wearing a sweat-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30+ is definitely a must. Covering exposed skin with clothing offers even better protection, but it can also make you hotter if the clothing doesn’t breathe, which is why the best option is often to find options like summer long sleeve shirts that are designed for airflow and comfort.

2. Choose breathable and moisture wicking clothing.

Keeping your skin cool and controlling sweat are essential parts of working comfortably in hot weather. That’s why people who work outside in heat choose breathable fabrics like birds-eye mesh and garments with built-in ventilation points. A DOME75 moisture wicking shirt can also be priceless when it comes to beating the heat since it removes sweat from your skin, helping to keep you cool and preventing chafing. 

3. Hydrate early, hydrate often.

Drinking plenty of water is one of the most important ways to keep yourself safe when working in heat. Together, heat and hard work will dehydrate you very quickly; in very hot direct sunlight, it can start happening in as little as 30 minutes. In fact, experts recommend drinking water before you even start work, and then drinking an 8-ounce cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Remember, it should be water or sports drinks only — skip the coffee or soda if possible.

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4. Know how to spot the signs of heat related illnesses.

Your body can respond in a variety of negative ways to heat, including the dangerous illnesses known as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Knowing how to spot heat stroke and exhaustion can save your own life or the life of your coworker, so get familiar with the key signs and keep an eye on yourself and the people around you. Just as importantly, you should know how to give basic first aid to a person with heat illness, as well as when to call for medical attention. 

5. Use cooling products to beat the heat.

Cooling towels, cooling hats and other protective cooling products offer another great way to keep yourself comfortable and help prevent overheating at work. Water-activated cooling products are a great option; all you need to do is saturate them with water, and then wring them out according to their directions. Now you’ve got a cap, headband, bandana or other headwear that’s working overtime to keep you cool! If you wear a hard hat for work, remember that we also offer sun shades that slip easily onto almost any model of hard hat and protect your neck from the sun. 

6. Take breaks often and on a regular schedule.

Even if you’re drinking enough water and following the other tips on this list, your body will get tired more quickly in the heat. That’s why it’s so important to regularly take breaks when you’re working in hot conditions. The CDC offers a table suggesting how often you should take breaks based on the temperature outside and the type of work you’re doing — but however often you take a break, make sure it’s in a shaded area with water available. 

7. Don’t forget high visibility clothing.

Even in bright sunlight, you’ll often still need hi-vis clothing to protect yourself and make sure you’re standing out to vehicle operators. Hi vis safety vests and safety work shirts are common on job sites, since they’re light and breathable but can still offer ANSI 107 rated performance. High contrast designs are also popular since their eye-catching color combinations help the reflective and fluorescent materials in the jackets stand out even more. 

Gearing up for a hot summer of outdoor work? Check out HiVis Supply’s collection of summer safety gear — we’ve got all the hot weather workwear you need for working in heat safely! 


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