Heat Exhaustion - Water
Most of the time, when listening to a safety topic concerning Personal Protective Equipment, most think of items such as hard hats, hi-visibility vests or shirts, gloves, eye protection, hearing, and footwear related to the type of industry you are working. However, PPE can be in the form of anything that provides protection - whether on a construction or timber harvesting work site, in sawmill manufacturing, or simply in a remote forestry setting. PPE is also relevant to environmental conditions. During this time of the year, temperatures start to soar from the mid to high heat ranges, even starting early mornings in some locations.
One form of PPE for loggers that is often overlooked during this time of year concerns dehydration and working in extreme weather conditions. Foresters, for example, will walk long distances throughout the day to mark timber boundaries, SMZs, and other environmental concerns related to a tract of timber.
Tolerances to heat are related to an individual’s fitness level, any existing illnesses, medications, and fatigue. Our bodies have built-in biological sensors that allow us to sweat. This sensor and control mechanism allows for evaporation, which helps cool our bodies, and provides us with our main line of defense against heat stress. Certain medications block this mechanism which causes our body’s core temperature to rise above safe limits. If you take this type of medication, your time working outside should be limited.
Recommended Practices to Prevent Dehydration
Sweating aids evaporation which cools our bodies. However, if the water does not get replaced, this too can cause our bodies’ heat controls to break down and, in turn, cause our body temperatures to rise to dangerous levels. The following safety precautions are recommended to prevent dehydration.
- Schedule the hardest work during the cooler hours of the day. Work at a moderate pace. As the temperature increases throughout the day, take frequent rest periods and relax in cool locations.
- Always preplan workloads and prepare an adequate supply of water available to ensure you are getting enough needed liquids.
- Drink 8 to 16 ounces (200 to 400 milliliters) of water before work. Take frequent drinks during each hour of work (1 quart or 1 liter per hour).
- Drink as much as possible at lunch and continue replacing fluids throughout the evening.
- Limit caffeine drinks, such as coffee or cola.
- Provide well-planned meals and healthy snacks. They are vital to maintain work capacity and avoid heat disorders by providing an adequate replacement of water, salt, and potassium.
- Schedule communication intervals with your office staff or others if convenient so that they can maintain your safety in an emergency.
- If bottled water is not accessible due to working remotely, wear a certified water-filled backpack. These have pouches to store ice packs and keep the water cold.
Keeping your workers safe on the job site should always be the top priority. For more recommendations on PPE for loggers, contact your BITCO Risk Control Consultant. Click the button below to find an agent near you.
For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.