It’s officially that time of year. When the sun’s heat seems to taunt our every move outside, sweat starts dripping down your forehead before you’ve even arrived at the job site and cold showers are suddenly a welcomed luxury...yeah, we all know the feeling. Say hello to July, which according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the warmest 31 days for most of the country. In 2019, July was even the hottest month on record for the entire planet.
Those types of high temperatures come with an ample amount of obstacles to staying healthy while working outside. Obstacles that--if not prepared for--can leave a lasting impact long after the summer’s heat recedes. That being said, we’re here to help. Whether it be by pointing you toward the T.5 WerkHoody to keep you protected with ease from the sun’s rays or by passing along some simple, useful information to embrace and share. All month long, we’ll be covering summer jobsite health, specifically UV protection, hydration and heat.
Don’t let the sun win against your skin
Skin cancer is already the most common cancer in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Naturally, those who spend all or part of the day regularly working outdoors are at even greater risk of being affected. This is because the sun’s ultraviolet rays - UV radiation - is the leading cause of skin cancer. Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate. All skin tones can be damaged by exposure to UV radiation and, even worse, that damage is permanent, irreversible and increases with every exposure. If you can’t take our word for it, take it from Rick Tinker, Section Manager of Assessment and Advice for ARPANSA, “Even though darker skin offers some natural protection against solar UV radiation, those people are still not immune to developing skin cancers. Employers need to make sure that all workers take precautions in protecting themselves from solar UV radiation.”
UV radiation is nearly always present outdoors and the Cancer Society reports that in any given location it can be affected by...
- Sun Elevation: The higher the sun is in the sky, the higher the levels of UV radiation at the Earth’s surface. Therefore, levels of UV radiation are highest in the middle of the day and during summer months
- Latitude: The closer to the equator you are, the higher the levels of UV radiation
- Cloud Cover: UV radiation can pass through light cloud cover, and on lightly overcast days the intensity of UV radiation can be similar to that of a cloud free day.
- Altitude: At higher altitudes (pay attention to this if you’re working where Truewerk is based, Denver!), the atmosphere is thinner and absorbs less UV radiation
- Reflective Surfaces: Some building and ground surfaces such as polished aluminium, construction materials, lightly coloured concrete, water and snow can bounce UV radiation back onto the skin and eyes.
The Cancer Society also found that outdoor workers in the trade industry are 10x more likely to develop conditions from harmful UV radiation. 8,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, but only 18% of outdoor workers say they always wear sunscreen at work. Meanwhile, those same outdoor workers experience 10x more exposure to harmful UV radiation.
We get why a whopping 82% of folks aren’t lathering up with protection, we’ve heard from many of you how much sunscreen can suck sometimes. It’s sticky and a magnet for dust and debris on the jobsite. It doesn’t last all day either, so that means frequent trips to reapply and let’s be honest: no one is eagerly doing that. The solution? UPF -- ultraviolet protection factor, the numerical rating given to clothing to indicate how effectively it blocks UV radiation.
We urge you to swap out the sunscreen you’re inevitably not using or supplement it with protective clothing that covers vulnerable areas like your arms and neck. Truewerk has your back on this one, literally. The T.5 WerkHoody or the Cloud Shirt are both options that deliver lightweight, fast-drying and breathable fabric to keep you cool. Plus, UPF protection.
Keep tabs on the blog later this month to learn more about how the T.5 WerkHoody can make your life better and keep you safe from the sun with our founder, Brain Ciciora.
And, in the meantime, remember that your eyes and face need protection from the sun too. If you haven’t already, it’s time to invest in some durable eyewear with UV protection that stay on and a hat.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Three quarters of Americans are dehydrated (Water Natura). You, reading this right now, go drink some water!
Back? Great. Drinking water is essential for survival, and even more important if you need to perform at your best -- that’s everybody in the trade industry.
Water helps regulate and maintain body temperature, removes waste products, and moistens your mouth, eyes, nose, hair, skin, joints, and digestive tract. Without water, your body would quite literally shut down. Since the brain is made of about three-quarters water, when there is a slight loss of water, the brain will shrink in size. Studies have demonstrated that brain functions like short-term memory, focus, and visual motor tracking can all be impaired even when water loss is at a mere 2% of body weight. If you’re feeling slightly thirsty, you’re already on the path for that water deficiency and slower reaction times, which on a job site is a very dangerous thing.
It’s critical to watch out for other symptoms of dehydration too - less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness and confusion (Mayo Clinic). Taking a pee break on the job? Use the “golden rule” test we mentioned in our Health blog back in April: Check your pee (Yup, we said look at your pee). If it’s clear to pale, you’re drinking enough H2O. The more golden it looks, the more water you need to drink.
Here are some other tips to avoid dehydration and function your best:
- Drink at least 16-20 ounces of fluid one to two hours before you start your work day.
- After that, you should consume 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes that you are outside. Estimates suggest that workers in heavy PPE can lose as much as 2.25 liters every hour.
- When you get home from work, keep drinking. To replace what you have lost throughout the day, you need at least another 16 to 24 ounces (2- 3 glasses)
- Keep your water cool if you can - the body absorbs water in the 50-60 degree range much faster. Insulated stainless steel water bottles from brands like HydroFlask can keep your water chilled nearly all day or Truewerk’s Hydra WerkPack keeps it handy so your water source isn’t basking in the sun wherever you started your day.
- Keep the basics in mind - you should be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day (even the days you aren’t working outside or in a hot attic). For example, a 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces (about 9 glasses) of liquid each day.
- Eat the rainbow. 20 percent of daily water intake comes from our food. Snack on high-water foods such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, berries and leafy greens that are all nutritional powerhouses with a hydrating impact. (Healthier You Vending)
To continue the conversation around hydration, we’re sharing a video interview with Dr. Missy Albreicht, PT, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Owner of Invincible, on Monday, July 20.
Beat the Heat
The sun isn’t your only enemy in the summer. When it comes to working construction in the summer heat, the two most significant risks to be aware of are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Both are conditions caused by working strenuously or overexerting in hot, humid environments when your body fails to cool itself down efficiently and effectively. Without prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition.
Fortunately, heat exhaustion IS preventable. For example, drinking water and protecting your skin are just two of the many ways to prevent heat exhaustion. There are also many signs you can catch early if you know what to look for. Stay tuned for our blog later this month that will dive into all the signs and provide several tips and resources for you and the entire crew.
That’s a wrap -- for now! Here’s the schedule of helpful content coming your way all month long.
- Thursday, July 16: Find out why we made the T.5 WerkHoody with Truewerk’s founder
- Monday, July 20: Learn more about hydration with Dr. Missy Albrecht PT, DPT
- Friday, July 24: Keep an eye on our instagram for a special giveaway
- Monday, July 27: Blog focused on heat exhaustion signs + prevention tips.
Your health is important to Truewerk all-year round and we encourage you to pay special attention to how you might need to adjust your routine and make positive changes for your body depending on the season. Tell us how else we might be able to help you do that -- and show us how you’re embracing the summer health practices we talk about here. Comment below or tag us on instagram @Truewerk!Plus, if you know someone (or are someone) that is representing the trades to keep the foundation of our communities strong, we want to hear about it. Send us an email at Marketing@truewerk.com with your story. We encourage you to include a photo that captures the hard work being performed.