The Dangers Of Working In Heat

Summer is just around the corner and this article will prepare your for the hot summer days! Staying cool while roofing can be a challenge. Demand for roofers is high in the summer; so roofing professionals often have to work the hottest days and without shade. That presents a few challenges. For example, how do you stay cool in the summer while roofing? Bello there are some tips to stay cool on hot summer days.

Know Your Weather Conditions
The first step to staying cool while roofing is to know your weather conditions. Before you set out for the day, you should look up the weather so you can plan appropriately. Use an app such as Weather Network App that has all of the weather information roofers need including temperature and Humidex rating.

You should expect a more challenging day as the temperature outside meets or exceeds body temperature because this makes it more difficult for your body to cool itself. You should also pay attention to humidity, because in high humidity your sweat evaporates slowly, which prevents your body from cooling as effectively. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) considers a Humidex rating of 30-39 to be uncomfortable, 40-45 to be greatly uncomfortable, and above 45 to be dangerous. On the other hand, very low humidity is also a problem, as it allows your sweat to evaporate too quickly, which could contribute to dehydration. In low humidity conditions, you will need to keep a closer eye on your hydration levels.

Know Your Work Surfaces
Our second summer heat safety tip is to understand your materials and work surfaces. Metal flashing can become quite hot during the summer. It’s best to keep these materials out of the direct sun until you are ready to install them. You should also wear heavy gloves while you are working with any roofing materials in high heat.

One of the best ways to stay cool while roofing in the summer is to plan for the layout of your roof itself. When the design permits, you should try to start on the west side of the roof at the beginning of the day, and work on the east in the afternoon, so that you can try to stay out of the direct sun.

Know Your Staff
If you bring on new staff members during the height of summer, you will have to allow them to acclimate to working in extreme heat conditions. It is recommended that a non-acclimatized roofing professional should work for no more than 20 percent of a usual workday on their first day. You can increase this time by 20 percent, maximum, every day until new workers are keeping pace with acclimatized workers.

Some health conditions can make working in the heat more dangerous, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even infections such as the common cold. Workers with these conditions, or who are taking prescription medications (which may affect their hydration or temperature), should discuss with their doctor if they can safely work in extreme heat conditions. Roofing professionals should get periodic medical evaluations and should have a plan to monitor their health while they are on the job.

Know What to Wear When Working Outside, Including Sunscreen
Your first thought when working in the heat is probably a desire take your shirt off. But, you’ll actually be cooler if you wear a shirt because it keeps your skin out of direct sunlight. Choose a light-colored shirt, bottoms, or even shoes, to reflect more of the sun’s rays. Also consider that breathable fabrics, such as cotton, will keep you cool in hot weather by letting you feel the breeze.

You may be tempted to skip routine safety equipment in extreme heat because it adds weight and layers to your clothing. But, it is essential to continue wearing your safety equipment. Your workload should be reduced based on the amount of heat stress your safety equipment adds. Some of the equipment may even help keep you cool, such as a hardhat with a brim, which will keep the sun out of your eyes.

The last piece of hot weather equipment you need is sunscreen. You should wear a chemical-based sunscreen on any skin that isn’t covered by clothing. It is best to apply the sunscreen 20 minutes before stepping into the sun. Using waterproof sunscreen can help prevent it from coming off with your sweat, but ultimately you will need to re-apply it after a few hours. To avoid gaps in coverage, do not use a spray-on sunscreen. Instead, use a liquid and “slather” it on liberally.

Plan Your Start, End and Break Times Strategically
You can plan your day wisely to stay cool while working in the heat. Many roofing professionals will start their day as early as light conditions allow, perhaps 7 a.m. in some locations, to avoid the heat and sun of the midday. Sometimes roofing professionals attempt to finish their work before the hottest part of the day ever arrives.

Once the temperature rises, you should take a water break every 15-30 minutes. Contrary to popular belief, taking your breaks in an air-conditioned environment will not reverse your acclimatization. You become acclimatized to hot conditions over a 7-10 day period, after which your body sweats and pumps blood more efficiently. You will only lose this acclimatization if you do not work in high heat conditions for a few days. If you were recently acclimatized, you can regain your advantages in 2-3 days.

It’s also important that you don’t exercise before you arrive at work. Exercising before working in the heat could increase your risk for heat-related illnesses on the job. It’s better to assess your health after work and decide whether or not it is safe for you to exercise in the evening.

Ensure You Have Access to Plenty of Water
The most important tip to avoid heat stroke is to remain hydrated throughout your workday. If you are dehydrated, your body will struggle to sweat and control its temperature, which can lead to heat illness. When you’re dehydrated, your heart will also have to work harder, because you have lower blood volume, which will make you less efficient.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Extreme thirst.
  • Headache.
  • Changes in mood.
  • Less frequent urination.
  • Darker urine.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Confusion.

Don’t wait until you see the signs of dehydration, or even feel thirst, to drink water. You will lose a large amount of water through sweat while working and research has found that you will not become thirsty enough to naturally replace it all. So, replace your fluids by frequently sipping your beverage throughout the day, even if you do not feel thirst. Remember that it is typical for workers in high heat conditions to lose 6 to 8 liters (211 to 281 oz.) of fluid through sweat a day—all of which has to be replenished.