During the summer months, outdoor workers are at risk of a variety of heat-related conditions. As the heat rises and our bodies lose water through sweat, the risk of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration are elevated. While we haven't been able to eliminate this very old problem, we are lucky to have a lot of brand new equipment to deal with them.
Equipment Trends to Beat the Heat
A lot of new summer safety equipment has hit the market in recent years. Consider equipping your workforce with these to keep them safe and cool when the heat index starts to climb.
Cooling vests range from simple models to more complex ones, but most of them look something like a bullet-proof vest for your average roadside worker.
Depending on the model, the vests can be ice-cooled like a large ice pack, designed with a fabric that creates an evaporative cooling effect when doused with hot water, or even have full-on air-cooled mechanical systems built into them. Regardless of how they do it, the effect is the same: keeping workers cooler for longer, reducing the risk of heat stress.
(Find out How to Use PPE to Combat Heat Stress.)
Hard Hat Neck Shades
They may not be the best fashion statement, but hard hat neck shades can be a useful component of summer protection. Protecting the neck can reduce heat loss from the body, but they're not designed to keep workers cool; their main purpose is to keep the skin safe from sun damage.
Hard Hat Cooling Pads
Hard hat cooling pads are worn as an insert inside of a hard hat and help cool down the body through the head.
True, the popularity of these cooling pads is based on the debunked myth that we lose most of our body heat through the head. But that doesn't make them useless; they can still help keep body temperature from rising.
Another iteration of the cooling fabric trend, cooling bandanas are worn around the neck and use the same evaporative material common with cooling vests and hard hat cooling pads. These can be used in conjunction with the other cooling equipment.
Cooling Towels and Wraps
Another way to use evaporative material to keep cool on the job site. Cooling towels and wraps are dunked into water for a few seconds and create a cooling effect as the water evaporates. Like the other cooling products in this list, these are a good way to provide some relief for outdoor workers.
Pocket Heat Monitors
A bit more complicated than a temperature app on your phone, these devices are designed to measure the heat, humidity, and heat index in any given area. These won't keep anyone cool but they will help you determine whether additional precautions need to be taken to avoid heat stress.
A semi-useful product, collapsible buckets have been designed specifically for the water-activated cooling equipment that is currently trending and popular.
Hydration packs have been popular with hikers, bikers, and runners. Though they might make you feel a bit like a camel, they're a great way to stay hydrated on the job without having to stop what you're doing to get a drink. Plus, they keep the water cool longer than it would if it just sat in a bottle.
Keeping Workers Safe in the Heat
Investing in some of the new trends in cooling equipment can go a long way to keeping everyone safe on the job site. But it’s still important for safety professionals and supervisors to understand the signs heat stress and educate workers on why it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day. While the cooling equipment can help beat the heat, they're not a substitute for the basics. On particularly hot days, make sure everyone is taking regular breaks to get some rest, spend a bit of time in the shade, and drink plenty of water.