Outdoors work, in hot weather, presents special exposures for workers. Besides the long-term concern with skin cancer from exposure to the sun, three immediate concerns that should be addressed are heat exhaustion, Lyme disease, and West Nile Virus infection.
The combination of heat and humidity can be a serious health threat during hot weather. Workers at a beach resort, on a farm, or outdoors at a construction site should protect themselves from injury and illness due to exposure to excessive heat. Workers should consider the following precautions:
Drink plenty of water – don’t wait to get thirsty, and avoid caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar.
Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing, such as clothing made of cotton.
Take frequent short breaks and stay in the shade.
Eat small meals, on a frequent basis, before and during work activity.
Be aware that equipment, such as respirators or work suits, can increase heat stress.
This illness is caused by bites from infected ticks. There is an increased risk for workers involved in construction, landscaping, forestry, brush clearing, land surveying, farming, railroads, oil fields, utility work, or park and wildlife management. Workers should consider the following precautions:
Wear light-colored clothes to make ticks more visible.
Wear long sleeve shirts, a hat, and tuck pants’ legs into socks or boots.
Wear high boots or closed shoes that cover the feet completely.
Apply tick repellants over the entire body, except the face.
Check for ticks after work and remove any attached ticks promptly with fine-tipped tweezers – do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, or nail polish to remove ticks.
Shower after work.
Wash and dry work clothes at a high temperature.
West Nile Virus Infection
This illness is caused by bites from infected mosquitoes – while it is rare, it does happen. To protect from mosquito bites, workers should consider the following precautions:
Empty standing water in containers, discarded tires, and buckets, which can be mosquito breeding areas.
Apply insect repellent with DEET to exposed skin.
Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET or permethrin.
Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks.
Be extra vigilant at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
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