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The sun and heat can be dangerous: Stay safe working outside

Heavy heat can make it hard to do your job. You need to know that you can take regular breaks, get hydrated and find shade when necessary. Unfortunately, since you work in the field, you're regularly out in the open.

One thing that is important for you to remember is how dangerous the sun can be. It is your employer's responsibility to make sure you're safe against sunburns, heat stroke and other heat-related complications, but it's also smart to take some time to learn more about heat and how it affects you on your own.

Sunburns are more serious than you think

A mild sunburn may just be irritating, but a serious burn can send you to the hospital. When you have a severe burn, you may have serious symptoms to deal with, such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Severe blisters
  • Sore or tender skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Headaches
  • Confusion

You should know that sunburns can be associated with heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Both of those, and some severe sunburns, are medical emergencies.

In worst-case scenarios, people can actually be sent to the burns unit of a hospital for a serious sunburn. It is easy to overexpose yourself to the sun, but doing so can be extremely painful and dangerous.

What should your employer do to prevent serious sun-related issues on the job?

If your employer wants to prevent serious injuries from the heat or sun, they should offer training to you and your colleagues. You should know what to look for when someone is falling ill and how the sun can affect you.

Your employer should consider offering sunscreen or encouraging you to wear it for your time outside. They should be offering regular breaks and places where you can cool off, like in a trailer near the field or a vehicle with air conditioning. Everyone should have access to water throughout the day that they are able to drink whenever they need it.

If you or one of your coworkers start to feel unwell, you should immediately stop what you're doing to go cool off and rehydrate. Anyone who continues to feel unwell should be sent home or to the hospital, depending on the severity of their symptoms.

In the end, good communication will help you keep your employer informed about what you need when working in the heat. If you are hurt, then workers' compensation should be there to cover you.

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