DPH Reminds Workers to Take Necessary Precautions During July Summer Heat Event
With temperatures anticipated to peak well into the 90s during the next several days, Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino is reminding individuals working outside or in non-air conditioned spaces to be cautious during periods of intense heat during the day. Each year, over 50% of all heat-related emergency department visits occur in the month of July.
“Outdoor workers need to take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses, with very warm temperatures expected the rest of this week.” said Commissioner Pino. “The combination of a high heat index and poor air quality create a serious risk to workers outdoors and also indoors when air conditioning is not available.”
Workers should stay hydrated, take frequent breaks in cooler air-conditioned/shaded areas, and limit the time spent in direct sun. In addition, employers are urged to move more physical tasks to the morning or evening, when the sun is less intense, temperatures are cooler, and air quality is better. If a worker experiences heat stress, call for medical assistance immediately.
Although anyone can be affected by heat-stress, some workers are at a particularly high risk, such as:
- Older workers (over 65 years of age) who may not compensate for heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature
- Workers performing frequent high-exertion tasks (lifting, digging, walking) who may become dehydrated quickly and experience more intense heat stress
- Workers who have underlying health conditions, especially heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, or who take certain medications that put them at risk
According to Commissioner Pino, if a worker feels ill working in the heat, they should notify a coworker and take immediate steps to:
Keep your body temperature cool to avoid heat-related illness.
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you must work outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to the mornings and evenings.
- Avoid working in direct sunlight and wear lightweight, light-colored, and moisture-wicking clothing.
- Check on all workers, especially those workers most at risk often!
Because your body loses fluids through sweat, you can become dehydrated during times of extreme heat.
- Drink more water than usual; do not wait until you are thirsty to drink more liquids.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
- Drink about four cups of water every hour while working outside.
- Remind other workers to drink enough water.
For more information about steps that employers and workers can take to reduce the risk of heat-related illness, contact the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Occupational Health Unit at (860) 509-7740 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.