top of page

The Dog Days of Summer: Heat Stress Safety

You hear the reference “the dog days of summer” largely through the month of August because it’s often extremely hot. Working outdoors in these hot temps can be, not only exhausting, but dangerous if you aren’t taking appropriate measures to stay cool. What should you know about heat stress and keeping yourself and your team well during the hottest time of the year? Let’s dig in!

If your job is working on or operating heavy equipment, odds are that you are outdoors in the heat or in a garage with limited cooling resources. Thankfully, most closed cab machines today have the comfort of climate control or can be ordered to include it, but what can you do if your equipment doesn’t have this feature, or you work in an open cab? You can be aware of the risks and be ready to combat them.

The human body is ill equipped to handle internal temperatures above 99.7 degrees Fahrenheit and if it reaches 104 degrees, severe damage can be the result in as short as 30 minutes. Being aware of your work environment and also your personal characteristics are imperative in a hot work environment.

Some factors to consider in the work area:

  • Temperature

  • Humidity

  • Radiant Heat

  • Air Velocity

Some factors to consider personally:

  • Age

  • Weight

  • Fitness Level

  • Medical Conditions

  • Acclimatization to Heat

When your body cannot cool itself sufficiently you may begin to experience various effects of heat stress. It’s important to be aware and able to recognize these effects which can include dehydration, heat rash, cramps, and burns. While these effects are more obvious, there are others that may not be.