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It's Hot Outside. Stay Cool on the Jobsite with These OSHA-approved Safety Tips

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Whether working in the air, on the ground or in a trench, it’s not easy for utility and construction workers to escape the summer heat. The best they can do is learn how to manage it, which requires the right planning, practices and products.

Best Practices

OSHA offers some basic tips workers can follow: 

  • Take rest breaks in the shade 
  • Drink plenty of water, at least one cup every 20 minutes 
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing (if possible) 

OSHA says employers also play a role in helping their workers manage extreme heat. Companies must provide an adequate amount of drinking water and must allow for adequate rest periods. 

Companies are also encouraged to develop a heat illness prevention plan that includes several components. For starters, companies should consider adopting various work practices during periods of extreme heat. Workers are reminded to be aware of their limitations and how they are feeling throughout the day. Employees are also reminded to look out for one another, watching for signs of heat stress and making sure safety protocols like rest periods are being followed. 

When practical, companies could also consider certain jobsite controls that can help keep utility workers cool. Things like fans and misting fans, reflective shields, and air-conditioned equipment can prove to be very wise investments in employee safety, productivity, and morale. 

Moisture-wicking clothing can also help utility workers. This type of technology pulls moisture off of the skin and through the garment where it can dissipate. This helps keep workers cool because moisture left in a garment can block heat from escaping. 

PPE is another employer consideration. Certain PPE and protective workwear are mandatory for a utility worker, but any little design feature that can help utility workers beat the heat can go a long way. When possible, look for items that are breathable and reflective. There are also wearable PPE items designed to help protect against heat exposure. These “personal cooling systems” include things like water-cooled garments and cooling vests. Some of these items can be worn while working, and for sure during mandatory rest periods to help workers cool down and refresh. 

Products for Staying Cool

1. ExtremeMist’s Misting Vest is a Class 2 hi-vis vest that keeps utility workers safe, cool, and comfortable. This vest’s Personal Cooling System includes a pump, misting hose, and wireless remote that make it easy to adjust settings and maintain the perfect level of misting on the job. The reservoir can be refilled without ever having to remove the vest, making it easy to keep on misting—and working—in the heat. 

2. OccuNomix HyperKewl Plus Hard Hat Pads provide 5-10 hours of cooling relief, right where a utility worker wants to feel that relief the most. They are easy to attach, activate and reuse. The unique fabric helps provide uniform cooling. The attached shade provides the added benefit of protecting the neck from the sun. 

3. Milwaukee’s M18 Jobsite Fan is battery-powered, so it’s easy to fire up anywhere on the jobsite when it’s time to take a break and cool down. A fully charged battery can provide up to 17 hours of runtime on low. Plus, the 40-ft. airflow, adjustable head, and multiple hanging orientations give workers the opportunity to fan themselves while performing certain tasks. 

AEM is the North America-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry in the United States supports 2.3 million jobs and contributes roughly $316 billion to the economy every year. 

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