In the Pine Belt: Preventing heat-related illness while on the job

Pine Belt workers share tips for how they beat the southern, summer heat.
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 6:57 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - Anyone going outside over the past several days knows it’s gotten extremely warm here in the Pine Belt, and temperatures are only going to get hotter.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, high temperatures can be dangerous, and people should drink more water than usual to prevent heat related illnesses.

They should also limit their outdoor activities, scheduling them in the morning and late evening hours when the temperatures are cooler.

Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at a greater risk for heat stress, which can lead to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat rashes.

Several workers from the Pine Belt area shared their tips to beat the heat.

José Tuyub is a recent gradate from West Jones High School and is now working at a construction site in Hattiesburg. He said the crew keeps plenty of cold liquids nearby to beat the heat.

“We just drink cool water,” said said José. “We have a cooler over there with ice and full of water and Gatorade and Powerade.”

Tony Day is the owner of All Day Lawn Care, and he said his team starts early each morning and drinks plenty of fluids during the day.

“We drink a lot of water to stay hydrated,” said Day. “We get at least a half-gallon to a gallon and then maybe some Gatorade or something.”

Charles Woods has been working in landscaping for more than 30 years, and he said there are several things you can do to stay cool.

“Be sure to take plenty of breaks,” said Woods. “Drink plenty of fluids. Drink water, Gatorade, Powerade. If you can find a shade tree, get under the shade for about 10 or 15 minutes. Try not to get dehydrated and you should be ok.”

While the signs and symptoms of heat stroke differ from person to person, they can include sudden and severe exhaustion, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness and perspiration, which may or may not be present.

Employers have a duty to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the workplace is safe and should take measures to protect their employees, including:

  • Using fans and air conditioning
  • Allow for loose fitting clothing
  • Provide workers with frequent breaks
  • Ensure plenty of cold beverages and water is available
  • Allow flexibility to permit less physical demanding activities during peak temperature periods
  • Use screens and umbrellas to create shade

If asomeone appears disoriented or confused (including euphoria), or exhibits unexplained irritation, malaise or flu-like symptoms, the worker should be transferred to a cool environment and medical treatment should be sought as soon as possible.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, heat has been the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States over the last 30 years.

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