Summertime is almost upon us, which brings a spike in temperatures and unique workplace safety hazards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, exposure to high environmental temperatures caused 2,830 nonfatal injuries and illnesses and 37 deaths among workers in 2015. These staggering statistics demonstrate the toll that summer weather can take on employees.
Due to the unique safety concerns of working in the summer, it is important to know what injuries and illnesses are most likely to occur. Here are some of the most common occupational injuries that affect workers during the summer season.
1. Heat-related illnesses
Exposure to heat can lead to a variety of complications. Common heat-related illnesses and their symptoms are:
- Heat rash: Clusters of red, small blisters that look similar to pimples.
- Sunburn: Red, warm and painful skin, often with blisters.
- Heat cramps: Muscle pain, muscle spasms and heavy sweating.
- Heat exhaustion: Pale and clammy skin, fast but weak pulse, nausea, dizziness, headache, fatigue and fainting.
- Heat stroke: Hot and dry skin, high body temperature, fast and strong pulse, confusion, dizziness, nausea, headache and passing out.
If workers know the warning signs of these illnesses, they can be ready to seek medical attention.
Dehydration is one of the most common issues plaguing employees who work during the summer. Warning signs of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Dry skin
Workers should consume water regularly, and take rest breaks when necessary.
Excessive physical effort can lead to injuries any time of year, but it is especially likely during the summer. Activities such as lifting, pushing, pulling and carrying can cause a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. An overexertion injury occurs when an employee performs a task that is too demanding for his or her physical capacity. Overexertion commonly leads to back injuries, muscle strains and neck injuries. Demanding work coupled with exposure to heat can lead to heat exhaustion.