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SafetyWatch: How to beat the heat with these safety tips

June 29, 2021 -  By
Landscaper shading eyes during hot day (Photo: JulieanneBirch/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Landscaper shading eyes during hot day (Photo: JulieanneBirch/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

As summer temperatures peak, landscape professionals and crew leaders should be on the lookout for symptoms of heat stress, especially among older crew members, according to Sam Steel, Ed.D., safety adviser for the National Association Landscape Professionals (NALP).

Symptoms include fatigue and low energy in the initial stages. As heat stress progresses, it can cause confusion, and a person will stop sweating.

“The person with heat stress is going to want to sit down and, in fact, should, but don’t put them in a hot truck,” Steel says. “Don’t sit them down somewhere in the sun. Find a tree or some other shady area to put them.”

In the most severe cases, a person can exhibit convulsion symptoms. In those cases, Steel says to call in emergency medical attention right away.

“In the worst-case scenario, heatstroke moves in, which results from the body core temperature reaching 104 and higher,” Steel says. “That’s a very dangerous situation and actually could result in the body’s organs shutting down. And that, of course, becomes a fatality.”

To help ward off heat stress before it starts, Steel suggests landscape crew leaders give workers frequent breaks, ensure they stay hydrated, perform the heaviest manual work before the heat of the day and check in with workers throughout the day. It’s important to keep in mind that some medications may also exacerbate the symptoms of heat stress. Crew members also can wear light, airy clothing, sun hats and sunscreen to help stay cool and comfortable.

As the heat of summer wears on, workers become acclimated to higher temperatures, so heat stress poses less of a threat, Steel says.

“Workers gradually get used to the hot weather conditions,” he says. “It takes an individual up to 10 days or more to become acclimatized.”

This article is tagged with , , and posted in 0721, From the Magazine, SafetyWatch
Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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