Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in illnesses and injuries. Prevention of heat stress in workers is important. Employers should provide training to workers so they understand what heat stress is, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be prevented.
Workers are typically instructed to "Drink lots of water, and wear the proper PPE". But is that enough?
Join hydration expert, Bubba Wolford, and skin health expert, Armand Coppotelli as they take a deep dive on the two frequently forgotten items of PPE.
Topics of this webinar include:
- Demographics most affected by heat stress
- Medical Preconditions
- Risk Management
- What your skin is telling you
- Misconceptions about sun screen
- Sun Screen Dos and Don'ts
Transcription of the Webinar
Jamie: Hello, and warm welcome to everybody. We would love to wish everyone a good morning, a good afternoon, or a good evening depending on where you are in the world today. My name is Jamie and I’m one of the cofounders of Safeopedia.
Safeopedia’s mission is to support the EHS professionals, operational folks, and any safety-minded individuals through free educational content, tools and resources. A huge thank you to those dedicated professionals for the great work they do on a daily basis. Today, we’re very proud to present Heat Stress: Are you and your workers FULLY protected? This Safeopedia webinar is being presented by Sqwincher and Deb, part of the SC Johnson Professional. It is now my pleasure to introduce to you today’s presenters, Bubba Wolford and Armand Coppotelli.
Bubba received his MS in Exercise Physiology from Mississippi State University in 1991. He joined Sqwincher in 2009, serving now as Director of Training and Corporate Development where he spearheads the importance of proper hydration within the industrial workplace. Armand is the Business Development and Training Manager for Deb U.S.A. He has more than 25 years of experience advising best practices to maintaining good skin health. He has hosted presentations on overcoming work-related skin dermatitis for many occupational medicine and nursing organizations, including Chicago Area Occupational Nurses Section, the Australian Occupational Health Nurses Association, and the Toronto Occupational Physicians Association. He has implemented corporate skincare programs for large-scale manufacturing operations such as Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Amtrak, Rohm and Haas, BISF, Lear, and Delphi, and has served on the Protective Clothing & Equipment Committee of the American Industrial Hygiene Association.
I now invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the presentation. With that, Armand, please take it away.
Armand: Thank you Jamie. Good day everyone. Thank you for sharing your time. The next few minutes we’ll be speaking first on ultraviolet awareness, some causative factors, the workplaces that are involved, some protection tips and some educational materials.
First, I want to give an overview of the whole issue of ultraviolet radiation. Most of the ultraviolent radiation is in the wavelength of UVA that comes from the sun and reaches the earth. UVA, if you look on the spectrum bar at the bottom of the page, is just short of visible light. However, it is the longest of the wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation, which means it can penetrate deeper into the skin. So, the tell-tale marks of UVA radiation are, really, aged skin, premature ageing, leathery skin—that is from the damage inflicted by the wavelength called ultraviolet A. It’s also a source of skin cancer. Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is an intense radiation that gives the burning. When someone says they have a sunburn, skin-reddening and sunburn, but it also plays a key role in the development of skin cancers as well. Finally, there’s a third wavelength called UVC. Although, we as consumers don’t usually have exposure to UVC because it’s blocked by the ozone layer, it can be created artificially by industrial processes such as welding. That is the broad spectrum of UV radiation.
Here’s an example of a skin cancer. Can anyone tell me what this is? Well, this is actually a melanoma. Melanoma, which is an effect of radiation, causes changes in the DNA of melanin cells. This cancer can be seen as a scalloped structure, it’s asymmetrical, so a physician would identify this pretty readily as a melanoma. Melanomas account for about 10,000 deaths a year, so it’s very serious because it is a metastatic type of cancer. But, on a whole, 8,500 daily, three-million people annually are treated for skin cancer, so it’s a pretty widespread problem.
One in every three cancers that are diagnosed is a skin cancer. About 90% of the non-melanoma cancers are associated with ultraviolet radiation from the sun as well. So, when we talk about non-melanoma skin cancers, these are called “basal cell carcinoma.” They develop in the basal layer of the skin or they’re called “squamous cell carcinoma.” They are typically not metastatic, so their treatment is very good, the outlook is very good. However, some squamous cell carcinomas, if left alone, can eventually metastasize, so they definitely need to be looked at. The causative factors are obviously exposure to ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B from the sun. It’s of note that outdoor workers actually have shown to have a higher than average risk of developing skin cancer. In fact, those workers in the construction industry are six times more likely to develop skin cancer than the general population, so the outdoor workers, especially construction workers, are at an increased risk for cancer.
The other type of radiation called the UVC, that I mentioned earlier, generated in welding processes but also with exposure to phototoxic materials. These can be carcinogens, they can be polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons generated in used mineral oils from wood burning in coal tars and pitches, steel-making, coal oven emissions. These are carcinogenic materials that react with the UV light and cause a burn of the skin but also are related to skin cancer development. Additional facts about UV rays; it is a definite human carcinogen. What happens is when the UV radiation impacts the skin, there are changes that occur on the cellular level with the DNA of the skin cells and mutations come about. These mutations are replicated so you have a multiplying effect of skin cells with damaged DNA. That is what leads to skin cancer. They cannot be seen, cannot be felt, so it’s difficult to gauge just visually. It’s not related to temperature.
You can have overexposure on a sunny day as well as a cloudy day or a cold day. UV rays can pass through loosely woven material. Later on, we’ll talk about some of protective clothing and the advantages of, say, dark or richly colored clothing as opposed to light clothing or pastel clothing. UV rays can pass through clouds, so on a cloudy day up to 40% of radiation can pass through the clouds. Also, note that UV radiation can bounce off materials, off surfaces such as metal, concrete, water, and snow. What you have is a reflection of about 80% intensity after they reflect off a surface, so you almost get a double exposure.
Finally, UVA wavelengths can pass through glass. A driver can be exposed to ultraviolet A radiation even inside a protected cab. One way to measure the UV exposure is by what is called the “UV Index.” This was adopted by the World Health Organization. The idea is to give us a daily basis on what UV levels are that day and when sun protection measures are required. Outdoor workers, for instance, need to be protected as soon as the UV Index reaches 3, not just when it’s sunny that day and it’s a beautiful day, but when it reaches 3. This is the scale. Obviously, protection begins to be required at 3, which is medium. Then, it becomes really necessary at high of 6 to 7 or 8, 9, 10, and 11. You can view today’s UV Index on easy tool published by the EPA. Go to epa.gov/sunsafety and you’ll get the UV Index for the day. Let’s move on.
Who is at risk? Well, obviously welders with the UVC radiation, roofers, those people working with creosote, coal-tar emissions, wood burning—those kind of combustion operations can generate carcinogens, the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that I mentioned earlier. Transportation workers, drivers, airplane pilots—again, UVA can pass through glass, so there’s a potential for exposure with those workers. And as I mentioned earlier, outdoor workers. Construction has a six times increase of risk, but also roadside crews, lawn and garden services. People with very fair skin who have a history of development of skin cancer, either personally or in their family have an increased risk. People with a lot of moles on their skin, it’s important to keep an eye on the moles as far as the color changes and the movement of those moles with people with, perhaps, more than fifty moles on their skin.
So, what do we do? Well, we have an acronym, it’s three letters. First is Avoid the ultraviolet exposure. If there’s a shady area where you’re outside working, go to that shady area. It’s an administrative control, but it’s important to reduce the hours of exposure in the sunlight.
P is for Protect the skin. Protection can range from use of sunscreen, protective clothing, hats, UV protective sunglasses.
Finally, C for Check. Check for early signs of skin cancer, perhaps, an annual visit to a dermatologist especially if you have a suspected mole or a rash.
How do we protect the skin? Again, we have another acronym. SLIP for slip on protective clothing—hard hats, clothing, ultraviolet protective layers that actually have a designation for UV protection. Again, a richly colored clothing is more effective than a light, pastel clothing. SLOP on sunscreen. Sunscreen, we normally buy in a consumer setting, but I’ll go into some detail on what a professional sunscreen entails. SLAP on a hat and neck protection. SLIDE on some sunglasses. Even inexpensive glasses usually have some type of UV protection. Then SHADE from the sun – administrative controls to avoid sun exposure.
When I talk about a professional sunscreen, it is wholly different than typical consumer sunscreen because of the testing that is done give it that qualification. First, you want to choose a broad spectrum. The original slide I showed, the three wavelengths UVA, B, and C, that is the entire UV spectrum. Protection should be applicable to all three wavelengths for professionals to use, not only UVA, B, but also, again, C radiation from processes such as welding. If you’re in the utility industry, linemen are very required to wear a special glove to prevent voltaic shocks. These gloves should not be impaired by the use of the sunscreen. There’s a test to pass that linemen’s glove test where that is a requirement so that they can count on that glove doing what it’s supposed to do. That test should be done. It’s an anti-test test. It should be a cream that absorbs quickly. Workers want to put on something and go to work, so it should not be oily or greasy that would take a long time to be absorbed. The two leading causes of cosmetic allergies are fragrances and dyes, so choose a product that is fragrant-free and dye-free to really minimize the potential for an allergic reaction to a cream. Finally, choose a cream that has been tested to be water-resistant. That is an 80-minute water-resistant test for heavy perspiration or in the water. Dispensers are also good because they allow an easy point for employees to reach to apply the sunscreen, and that can be documented that they’re using the product.
Some sunscreen tips to mention. No spray sunscreen. There’s a risk due to inhalation from the sprays. The FDA actually was alerted to a number of instances where the sunscreen spray ignited and caused serious burns. So, even after the spray had dried on the skin, it was still flammable. I’d like to give a caution about using the sunscreen sprays. There are vitamin A products out there, but the potential for them to accelerate skin tumors is documented, so avoid any kind of cream that are utilizing vitamin A or retinyl palmitate.
No high-SPF factors. Just to give you a little break down; an SPF 15 would absorb about 94% of UVB rays. An SPF 30 absorbs about 97% of UVB rays. To move to the much higher number, you really don’t get much more of a benefit. An SPF 45 would absorb about only 1% more of the UVB rays but would also add more ingredients that may be of a potential allergenic concern. The FDA requires 15, 30 is a good number for significant absorption of ultraviolet radiation. Sunscreen powder or towelettes, the FDA found that you could not determine if enough of the sunscreen was being applied, so they have been banned. Then, reapply often. The FDA recommends applying sunscreen to cool, dry skin 15 minutes prior to ultraviolet exposure, then to reapply every two hours, or if there’s heavy perspiration or immersion in water, to apply every 80 minutes because that is the water-resistance test that’s used – 80-minute test.
The Deb Group has additional educational materials available including a “Be UV Aware” sun board that you can adjust to today’s UV Index, a mirror to aid in application, and a dispenser so the professional sunscreen can be administered. A guide for outdoor workers, videos, infographics, and blogposts all designed to help meet the requirement, really, to provide a helpful workplace for workers that may be exposed to serious hazards such as ultraviolet radiation. Jamie, I would like to pass this to the next presenter.
Jamie: Alright. Thank you, Armand.
Bubba: Good afternoon, everyone. Great job, Armand. Thanks for everybody again for attending this. My goal today is to cover hydration as it relates to the hazard that’s prevalent throughout most of the U.S. right now, record heat in the Midwest. So, let’s get started.
Sqwincher was established in 1975. We are in the same place that we originated. We were the second player to the game back in ’75. Gatorade came in the late ‘60s. Everybody knows that story. Then, as time went on, electrolytes became more popular and the studies came out that, yes, there is a need to replace electrolytes that were lost through sweat when performing in heat, and all of that was primarily through sports. Today, we’ll take the conversation, actually, from a sports drink conversation to a PPE safety item. When we do that with a lot of the PPE out there, think about fall protection for example, does one size fit all?
OSHA does not have federal regulations mandating electrolyte usage. There is a standard in California, it’s called CAL/OSHA. It has regulations on water consumption, some of the things Armand was talking about like shade, rest intervals, that kind of thing that actually was borne out of a lot of deaths. I think there was, approximately, seven deaths in one year in the fields out there, so they felt like they needed to do something, but, again, electrolytes were not a part of it. As everybody knows on this call, OSHA has something called a general duty clause. If you do have a heat stress-related accident and it comes out during investigation, they will point to their recommendations. This is actually what we’ve designed our hydration health and safety programs off of - custom programs. We’ll come in, do an assessment at your facility, and this is what we’ll look at to make sure that you’re covered from the engineering controls, the protocols that you have to protect the workforce. Also, the training in the symptoms, having charts up, having heat index charts for conversions, and all that kind of stuff, to make sure the workforce is dedicated, and they understand the hazard in which they’re working in.
Hydration starts and stops with water. 60% of the body is made up of water. It’s very, very, very important that we replenish the water on a daily basis. Toxins, for example, liver, kidneys, bladder, lots of information out there pointing to the health—to maintain proper organ function and health that the water balance to flush the organs is essential. So, big thing there. Not just sweating. A lot of people don’t realize just normal physiological operation of the body right now, breathing, talking – I’m losing water – going to the bathroom, those kind of things, so there are other ways that we are losing our H2O
The big question I get all the time is “How much water do we need?” We say this in the Mayo Clinic, an average man ingesting around 2,900 calories a day, they’re suggesting twelve 8-ounce cups of water a day. A woman ingesting about 1,900 calories on average a day, they suggest nine cups of water. OSHA makes a recommendation of one cup every 20 minutes when you’re in 80 degrees or higher, which could indicate the body is perspiring. To note, 70% of the U.S. population is chronically dehydrate and that should not be a surprise to anybody. If you look at the beverage industry and all of the caffeinated, high sugar, you know, Monsters—I shouldn’t mention the name, but the high energy drinks, the high sugar drinks, high carbonation, all those kinds of things do not lend and do not count when we’re measuring the actual water, the H20 without anything else in it. It’s very important that we teach that and help our workforce understand that they have to have water first.
Now, we’re talking about electrolytes. Again, it’s not mandated. However, 10/15 years ago I would get an argument from time to time “Water’s enough for our people.” Water’s not enough. Again, this is a physiological fact. When you perspire, you’re losing the minerals in which maintain a balance in your body so that you don’t cramp. The sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium are stored in your muscle cells, so when you cramp, you are not in balance, therefore, that’s why having a supplement to the water is essential. We’re going to talk a little bit more about that. But, that’s the big key is keeping the electrolyte minerals that are stored in the muscle cells to keep the body from cramping.
In our world, cramping can be catastrophic. I’m thinking of an incident several years ago there was a worker at a steel mill. He was out on a Mule or a Gator utility vehicle and his job is to check all the rolls of steel in the yard and he had severe leg cramps. It was about 100 degrees outside—floor-boarded the vehicle almost to the coworkers, slammed into the roll of steel and was severely injured. Once they did the investigation, it came back, he was severely dehydrated. Leg cramping is one of the first places that you’ll see that. Again, somebody cramps on the football field, soccer field, usually it’s not a life or death situation. In our case, whether they’re on heavy equipment, working the cutting tools, whatever, it could be absolutely catastrophic.
Understanding the heat index particularly parts of the country where humidity is a factor, particularly in the summer time, every day. They hear in the news that it’s 85 degrees outside or, let’s just say, it’s 80 degrees outside with a relative humidity of 80%. If you go to the top column where it says “Air Temperature,” just simply move over to the fourth column where it says 80. Then, on the left if you’ll go down 80% humidity, for our example, and move over to the right, to the fourth column and you’ll see it actually feels like 86 degrees.
The reason this is important, if you have thresholds in which you are raising the awareness and maybe even, at that point, you’re initiating your hydration health and safety program, if 85 degrees is the threshold and air temperature is 80, once you use this tool, you’ll see that you’re 1 degree over the threshold. This can be key to keeping your people safe when the real hazard—when you put the humidity in there, the real indication of threshold is exposed after making the conversion. To continue on with thresholds, it’s very important to understand the heat stress hazard and what it does to the body as it increases. At 90 degrees you can see things start really changing. Again, we talked about cramping, those kinds of things. The symptoms we’re going to talk about in a minute. If you start hitting over that 90/95, 100-degree or more, you really need to have protocols to take precautions, get people out of the heat when possible. If you have road crew, for example, a lot of times you’ll see they won’t work in the day time, they work at night. That’s all because of the hazard. It’s very, very, very dangerous when we get up over these thresholds here. Again, training, understanding, having a plan to address this is absolutely key to avoiding any accidents.
What happens when we lose fluid and we don’t replace it? The big thing we hear a lot of times is “absorption.” Everybody wants to know about absorption of the electrolyte product or water, or whatever it may be. That’s important, however, fluid retention is more important to keep the body functioning at a proper level. If we can maintain as close to a 100% as we can, then we’re not going to start slipping into things that we’re looking at here. Just 2% fluid loss can start affecting the body and impairing performance.
Again, this shows that, you know, if we’re operating heavy equipment—it doesn’t matter what we’re doing. We can become the hazard to the other people working. The buddy system comes in big time in this situation. We spend more time at work than we do at home. We get to know our coworkers. We urge our coworkers to be aware, to take care of yourself. Do not be the problem, be the solution. Understand when somebody is not acting right, they’re not talking right, they may be hallucinating. Get them. What do we do in that situation? They don’t even have to think. They get on, they take them to the break room, the HS office, nurse, whatever it is, get them out of the hazard because they are showing symptoms that is not safe for them to carry on in the situation. So, again, the training, which we’ll talk about more, is really key to recognize when things start going south.
I do heat stress training almost every day during this time of the year. It’s what I’ve been doing all week. If I can get the audience to pay attention and to understand the urine chart or what we call “Dehydration dashboard,” it can make a big difference. I urge the safety team that we post this type, hydration chart, all over the plant particularly in restrooms, urinals, outside, whatever it may be as we train on this and it gets in their head.
The fact of the matter is, the body, it will tell you when something’s going wrong. In this case, when you’re dehydrated, you’re going to be urinating dark brown/yellow colors, also there will be an odor to it. Almost every single heat stress training that I do, somebody in the audience will ask, “Well, I take vitamins. My urine’s yellow all the time.” Well, odor is definitely a key indicator as well. Being at that target level is not just when we’re at work. We’re talking about a lifestyle change. Again, back to 75% of the U.S. population is chronically, severely dehydrated. This does not just start when you walk in the door.
Okay. This is the big thing. We just covered kind of traditional stuff, but what do we do? Safety officers at our plants or at our facilities—who are we dealing with? You see, it’s industrial athlete VS athlete. What I’m talking about is an average industrial worker is about 40 years old, an average athlete is anywhere in average of about 22 years old. Big, big difference in those demographics, what they’re ingesting, their lifestyle, the physiological changes that they have. As we get older—everybody knows. I have glasses. I didn’t have glasses when I was 30. I turned 40, I have glasses. You can see in my picture, I’ve lost my hair when I turned about 40. We’re not the same, therefore, we have to be treated a little bit differently.
When our workers come in the door, we are challenged with their diet and their nutrition, and things that may not be ideal to promote the rehydration to keep them safe. So, diet, high fat, high sugar – we see a lot of that. The diuretics is a huge problem whether it’s prescribed diuretics to get water off the body for some type of hypertension issue or diuretics like caffeine, alcohol, things like this that promote the body to expel water. We really want them to limit this and we want to limit these products at our facility. I can tell you, yesterday, I was at a large metalworking facility. One of the first places I want to go is the break room and it looked like a mini—it really was a mini convenience store that was set up in their break room. They had one full cooler dedicated to nothing but energy drinks. The first thing I said was, “This is a problem,” so they’re going to address that. Really being aware of what we’re providing and what it could do is huge.
Medical preconditions—this is a sad state of affairs. Everybody, in the election and all, the healthcare cost going up, up, up. Well, we’ve got a very unhealthy population and we’re not getting any healthier. We have to deal with that on a daily basis. How does that affect hydration? Well, when you’ve got well over 11% type-1/type-2 diabetic and over 30% that have hypertension—this number does not go down with age, it goes up. It goes up dramatically. The workforce is not getting younger. It’s getting older since 2009 as we all know. Then, we throw overweight and obesity in there, we’re really challenge if we’re trying to use just a sports drink to hydrate our workforce to prevent heat stress accidents.
Here it is. These numbers are scary. This is through race and ethnicity; the numbers are staggering. What do we do? How do we get around this? We’re trying to fix one problem, but then we complicate another problem. Here are more statistics that are not good. Childhood diabetes, obesity, all those kinds of things really was not an issue 20 or 30 years ago. It’s an epidemic right now. Those people are growing up and coming to work for us. Information is prevalent. We want people to understand to be careful when you choose what you’re putting in your body whether it’s food or whether it’s liquid. Other than water, know how it could affect you. It’s pretty scary. Only about half of the people that have hypertension really do anything about it. That’s probably the most troubling thing to me. We need to help them, and we can.
Productivity and safety—look, we all want to get as much as we can out of workforce. There’s no question about that. We already looked at what happens when we’re dehydrated, productivity goes down. It’s also very important that they’re productive at home. We want our folks to come healthy, we want them to leave healthy so that they can be productive fathers, husbands, wives, grandparents. A lot of people get off at 3:00/3:30 daylight savings time, they can go and do a lot of things with their family. If they’re sitting on the couch because they’re having symptoms of heat stroke and they don’t understand that, they’re not going to know how to address it and they can die from overexposure to heat as well.
Do we understand the factors that we’re dealing with? Again, yesterday, in this facility where we trained and actually did an assessment, we had two different circumstances. We had a traditional metalworking facility that was inside—it was not airconditioned, but there was no sun exposure. Again, back to some of Armand’s stuff. Then, we had people that were working outside. We actually had two different hydration health and safety plans to address different types of exposure.
Also, the clothing. You have somebody that’s working next to a furnace or machinery that’s throwing off a lot of heat or whatever it may be, it may be up to 180 degrees in a certain area, we have to take certain precautions for those people. A lot of this is sometimes overlooked. Physiologically speaking, what is it doing to the body? You can see here—I’m not going to get in depth as I’m starting to run a little bit out of time. Again, things to look for that will start coming on when the body starts to slip into the state of dehydration. Now, like any PPE safety product, it needs to be custom fitted. I’m not here to talk about Sqwincher today, but I do want to point out that we have three different product lines. There are other companies out there that have different product lines very similar to this. There are also companies that don’t. in 1975, if you look on the left, that is the full-blown sugar version of Sqwincher. If you look to the far right, that is our zero sugar, 95% sugar-free product, which happens to be our number one selling product.
We cater to the industrial workforce. 95% of what we do is not retail. We’re in the pro-line side just like Deb is. We are catering to the workforce with products that are fitted, they are tailored to whatever the issues that we have. So, again, when we try to fix one issue, we’re not complicating/creating another issue particularly when we’re talking about diabetes and hypertension – super, super careful. All of the products, also, when you’re looking at choosing something, if you have diabetes, obviously, you’re going to be looking up sugar-free products, or if you do have diabetes—national average says we do. Hypertension population—again, can we find a product that has less sodium? So, all of our products have 55mg of sodium, which is 50% less than a normal sports drink. Our potassium is about 30% higher. Again, we cannot have cramping in our facilities – it’s catastrophic, as I’ve said before.
But, I might have—in Permian Basin, for example, I have a drilling company out there and 25-year-old guys that are pulling pipe and doing all the things they do, they need sugar. They need as many carbohydrates as they can get. So, we will look at what the workload is, what the demographic is, what the medical preconditions are, then we will tailor-fit to whatever part of our population that is working that they can safely ingest and meet the need that they have. Again, the sugar-free—being the industrial sector is our number one focus, most of those jobs—we’re talking about an average 40-year-old worker, not really high in intensity, light to moderate workload, but in very high temperatures in a lot of cases, and 8 to 12 hours a day, and then five to seven days a week. We can look at the situation and recommend the right product.
Also, with any hydration health and safety product, any PPE product, the product’s not enough. It’s all about education. That is what we do here. We’re here to assist you in any way we can whether you use our product or not, we’re not interested in that. Our team works very hard to go out and educate. We have—the top, right there, that’s the heat stress awareness poster that we can make available to you. All these is at no charge, so I’m not selling you on this. It is available. Our website has a lot of this available as well.
The urine charts that I mentioned earlier. We actually have a new product. They are stick-on, so they’re very easy to put in your facility. We can make these available. Also, the hydration assessment – we can come in, just like a glove assessment, for example, we can look in your facility and make sure your hydration stations are located in the right spot, that you’re using the right type of water, all those kinds of things. It’s part of the whole program.
Thank you very much.
Jamie: Great. Thank you, Bubba, and thank you, Armand. Alright. We’ve had a flurry of questions come in, so we’ll all get right to those to answer as many as we can. Just a note to the audience, if we don’t get to your question, we’ll have the ability to either Armand or Bubba to follow up with you directly to get that question answered. With that, let’s get started.
Let’s start with Jerry. Jerry has a question. “Why should I apply sunscreen 15 minutes prior?”
Armand: That is a good question, Jerry. The reason is we don’t want to give the sunscreen filters a chance to be absorbed into the outer skin layer. That’s where the protection needs to be. It takes a little time for it to set up and dry, so we recommend a 15-minute application before exposure just to really get into that epidermal layer and penetrate some of those outer skin cells. A normal skin barrier is about ten to twenty cells thick, so we want to make sure the cream has a chance to get through the lipid layers around those skin cells for the protection to be adequately applied.
Jamie: Great. Thanks, Armand. Ryan has a question here. “How much should my employees drink? Can they drink too much?” I think he means either water or hydration products, not alcohol.
Bubba: Yeah, great question – one I get all the time. As I addressed the amount of water—again, the Mayo Clinic says it’s twelve cups for a man, nine cups for a woman, that’s not taking into consideration the hazard. OSHA recommends, you know, when the body starts perspiring that you’re drinking water every twenty minutes. They don’t actually say how much, but those are the recommendations. What we recommend to keep a proper balance after the 80-85 degrees and the body is perspiring, water first. So, for every 8 ounces of water, when you start sweating, back that up with 8 ounces of an electrolyte product. That will keep you pretty much in balance. When it’s moderate heat, moderate activity, you can even get away with two glasses of water, one glass of electrolyte, but as the hazard goes up, the 1:1 ratio works pretty well. We do not recommend just drinking an electrolyte product by itself. Not at all. As I said earlier, the electrolytes are supplement, the water is the primary hydration tool, but it’s not enough when we start perspiring. We have to replace the electrolytes to specifically prevent cramping.
Jamie: Great. Thanks, Bubba. Actually, we’re going to build on that. Sandrice has a similar question. She says, “Say an employee is on the construction site for five hours,” she does ask, “what should his water and electrolyte intake be?” She mentions one cup of water for one cup of electrolyte, but then she builds on it. What about the frequency? Is this every 20 minutes? Do you have a frequency in mind, Bubba?
Bubba: For me, hydration, again, it’s not when we’re at the work site—I’ll give a good example. I don’t have an exact answer backed up by study for this, so I’ll give you a little bit of my opinion. When I was playing football in high school, I had a coach that said, “Never miss an opportunity to drink water.” If we walk past the water fountain and he caught us doing that, we’d have to go run. The point is, if you drink your twelve cups of water over a period of time throughout the day, then you’re not going to pass the water as fast. You’re going to have more of a retention rate. If you see people on water diets, for example, they’re walking around, they juggle water, and they’re just chucking water all day, you can get too much water. There are people that have died from overhydration. What happens, physiologically speaking, when you introduce the electrolytes along with the water, that 1:1 balance—again, we’re trying to get the excess of twelve cups and then on top of that twelve cups is that 1:1. It’s a lot of fluid.
The body will retain more of the water when you’re sweating when you introduce the minerals, which are electrolytes because the muscle cells will stop—in layman’s terms, they will actually retain that water because they are looking for those minerals to replenish the cells so that the body can continue to work at normal and full capacity. So, whether you’re at home, whether it’s the weekend, whether you’re at work, just a good, steady ingestion of water, keeping in mind the nine or twelve cups, and then trying, every twenty minutes, to replenish as well. That’s what we see is the best way to do it – just steady. Just steadily hydrate. Don’t overhydrate and use those guidelines.
Jamie: Okay. Thanks, Bubba.
Bubba: Let me add this. When you’re thirsty, that is not an indicator to drink. At that point, you’re probably going to start seeing your urine turning darker. That’s another thing. The color of your urine will help you understand. Your body will tell you. That dashboard, that hydration dashboard—your urine color will tell you when you are imbalanced. When you’re clear, whatever you’re doing is working. Continue to do it. It’s kind of a trial and error because everybody’s body is different, but the urine chart in monitoring that color, that’s key.
Jamie: Great. Thanks, Bubba. Alright. Looks like here’s a question for Armand. “Our employees wear insect repellent and sunscreen. What’s the proper way to apply them both when insect repellent is necessary?”
Armand: The recommendation here—first of all, not to use a combination product. There’s just not enough sunscreen in a combination sunscreen/repellent to really give adequate UV protection. As far as what to apply and when, first apply the sunscreen at an adequate amount to protect the arms, face, exposed skin, and then apply the repellent. Now, there are some studies that Deet will lessen the effectiveness of the sunscreen. So, again, the combination products might be a problem, but there is some evidence that Deet will also lessen the effectiveness of the sunscreen when used in combination.
Jamie: Okay. Thanks, Armand. Here’s an interesting question from JT. “What effect will acclimation or heat acclimation have on hydration? Less water? Same quantity? It’s a lot colder here than down in the southern states.” Great question. Bubba?
Bubba: That is a great question. One thing that we look at – I didn’t go into this because of time – with the onset of the season particularly in the south or, you know—look at what happened just this week in Minneapolis being over 100 degrees. When the water slams in like that, the body is not used to it. Even properly hydrating, you can still run into some problems because the acclimation is huge. You want to really ease people in, take more breaks. If they’re outside, really pay attention to the shade so that they are acclimated. But, your hydration practices, again, like I said earlier, the balance of the water and the electrolytes over time, before and after work, not just when you get to work, not letting thirst be your indicator, and monitoring your urine, that will keep you where you need to be. The clear urine indicator is everything. You know, we go in and do the heat stress training, let’s just say, on Q1. A lot of places I’ll go in in March and do heat stress straining, but what about those—one of the first things I ask, typically, in construction companies, “What’s your turnover rate?” Well, typically it’s pretty high with certain segments of the workforce that they have. So, what is their plan to train those people and to acclimate them to get up to speed with the other workers? A lot of times, they try to keep up with the worker that’s been in the heat for a month, that can be a real problem.
Great question. It’s just awareness, more than anything else, and understanding when your body is telling you you’re dehydrated.
Jamie: Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks, Bubba. Alright. I see we’re running a little close to the hour here. We’ll definitely get a couple more questions in. Let’s see. Greg has a question. “Armand mentioned that sunscreen towelettes have been banned due to their ineffectiveness. Why are they still available to purchase via industrial safety suppliers?”
Armand: Good question. They actually have been banned by the FDA because, as I mentioned, there’s no way of telling if enough sunscreen has been applied to the worker. I can’t give you an answer as to why some distributors still carry them. Perhaps, they had them in inventory and still offer them. The FDA is pretty busy, so they’re not out policing distributors. Definitely, to be on the safe side, I would avoid use of that. Really, to apply a sunscreen—according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one should apply one to two tablespoons of sunscreen, which is equivalent to about 1 ounce. That’s probably a larger amount than any towelette can give you and that’s why the FDA decided that it was not adequate as a measure against, really, a human carcinogen, which UV light is. I hope that helps.
Jamie: Thanks, Armand. Alright, we’re at the top of the hour, so we’ll get one more question in. We really want to thank everybody for hanging on the line. Really appreciate and understand if you have to drop off. Again, we’ll be sending out a recording. With that, the last question. The lucky winner is Mark. He says, “On a construction site, it’s quite difficult to have two waters/drink containers and control which workers are drinking from it. Is it okay to mix half water and half electrolyte drink in a jug?
Bubba: I would not recommend doing that. I’ll tell you why. Again, we want to ingest water first and then we have the electrolyte second as a supplement. The other thing that sometimes we forget, and this happens all the time on trucks, people that have the truck mount cooler, when it’s not hot outside, they have water in the 5-gallon cooler. Then, when it gets hot, they put the Gatorade or the Sqwincher, or whatever in it.
That becomes a safety concern because, for example, if it’s a street department worker and they are out on a weed eater and they have, let’s just say, Sqwincher in their 5-gallon cooler and that’s it – they only have one cooler – and they happen to have an eye injury. Well, if the eye wash kit is not in the truck, they can’t use Sqwincher to wash their eye. If they have a contusion or laceration, again, they’re not going to use an electrolyte solution to clean the contusion. So, water, from a safety standpoint, is absolutely essential over and above hydration. So, no, we always recommend having water and electrolytes.
I will say this, if you have to make a choice and you’re just going to choose one, you have to choose water. But, there are products out there that can work very nicely with just one cooler – single-serve electrolyte products, things like that. We can solve that problem very easily and still just work with the one cooler of water, but it always starts with water first.
Jamie: Great. Thanks, Bubba. We did have someone say, “What about the Sqwincher Double Cooler?” So, nice shout-out, Daniel. Thank you.
Bubba: There you go. Absolutely. That would fix the problem, but I’m not here to sell Double Coolers. That would fix the problem, so thank you.
Jamie: Yeah, that’s cool. Alright. A little bit after the hour. Armand, do you have any parting words for the audience before we sign off here?
Armand: Oh, thank you again for everyone attending. Wear your sunscreen, wear your protective clothing, avoid the sun if possible. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me on my 800-number or email me. I would be glad to help. Thank you, again, everyone.
Jamie: Bubba, any parting words?
Bubba: I’ll second everything that Armand said. We’re here. We’re here to help. We’ve got over a hundred people from coast to coast to assist you. As well, call my number – that is my cell number – at any time. Our number one focus is keeping our hardworking men and women out there that do the jobs we don’t have to do, keep them safe and keep them healthy. We’re dedicated to that and I know all of you are too, so let’s work together. Thank you.
Jamie: Alright. We definitely want to thank everybody for attending today’s webinar. We know you have a choice where to spend your time, so we’re very grateful you spent it with us today. We want to thank Deb, part of SC Johnson Professional. Huge thank you. Thank you Sqwincher. Really appreciate you guys putting these presentations together educating our audience. We can’t thank you enough.
With that, thanks everyone again. Everybody take care. Stay safe.