Safety Tips for Working Outside in Hot Weather

Construction WorkerAccording to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, taking more lives yearly than the combined efforts of floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes.

With thousands of workers experiencing heat-related illnesses – sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion & sunstroke – conditions that can quickly become deadly, knowing how to avoid them is crucial for any individual – from farmers to construction workers – working outside in the heat.

The following 3 tips provide the essential information needed for staying healthy & safe even while working for any length of time outside in the heat.

  1. Hydrate. Drinking lots of water is crucial for preventing serious illness and even death when working outside in the heat. Individuals should drink lots of water even if they don’t feel thirsty with non-alcoholic and decaffeinated liquids also being beneficial. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which have the potential to dehydrate.
  2. Protect. Protection while outside in the heat involves wearing the following items regularly: safetyglasseswithUVprotection, sunscreen, brimmed hats and loose & light clothing. Protection also means taking regular breaks and using cooling fans whenever possible.
  3. Educate. Know what triggers heat illness. Culprits include high temperatures, direct sun or heat, limited air flow, physical exertion, poor physical condition, some medications & bulky clothing.

Also, be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, which include dry, hot skin, no sweating, mental confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures and convulsions. Knowing these simple facts helps workers not only act when necessary to prevent a condition from worsening but also keeping it from happening in the first place.

For individuals who need to work in the heat, beating the heat requires a partnership. When workers and employers both understand the potential for heat-related illness and even death, prevention becomes a key focus when temperatures rise.

Employers can provide water, breaks, safety gear & education while workers can avail themselves of the resources and take responsibility for their own safety. At the same time, each person can watch for the signs of heat-related problems in others and add a layer of helpful accountability.

Solving the Problem of Fogged Eyewear in Hot Weather

fogged safety glassesWith increased summertime temperatures comes increased problems with fogging eyewear, which can lead to serious safety issues for those working outside. From construction workers to first responders to welders, dealing with the problem of fogging can become a constant struggle and frustration. Fortunately, viable solutions exist.

First, let’s understand the problem by looking at the main causes of fogging eyewear.

Causes of Fogging

Fogging happens when there is a temperature difference between the inner and outer surface of lenses, kind of like what happens when a glass of cold water sweats when sitting outside in the sun. The factors contributing to fogging include:

  • Ambient heat, best understood when thinking of how much hotter the inside of a car sitting in the sun is than the actual outside temperature.
  • Tight eyewear, like found with goggles and wrap-around glasses, preventing air flow.
  • Increased humidity in the air settling on lenses.
  • Human exertion adding body heat and moisture through sweat.

Anyone working outside in warm weather can struggle with fogging eyewear, those who also wear face shields (welders, tactical officers, first responders) have increased problem with fogging lenses in the heat.

The most obvious struggle involves the inconvenience of eliminating the fog by continually having to clean lenses. But those with an eye for safety also realize the significant safety issues resulting from having to deal with fogged up safety eyewear.

Safety Issues Caused by Fogged Eyewear

Safety issues caused by fogging eyewear fall into two categories.

  1. Non-Compliance – Unfortunately, a solution for many is to remove their safety eyewear, making them vulnerable to a host of eye injuries.
  2. Impaired Vision – When eyewear is fogged, workers cannot see their best if at all, and this leads to increased possibility of injury.

A third problem caused by fogging eyewear involves the lost productivity that comes when workers are injured from not wearing safety eyewear or not being able to see properly due to fogging or when workers must stop work to safely deal with fogged-up lenses.

Independent research, as reported in OH&S, confirms the significant problem of fogging eyewear. That research found that “fogging is the number one vision-related barrier to wearing safety glasses.” In addition, 28% of safety professionals “believed fogged eyewear had contributed to injuries in their own workplaces.”

5 Solutions for Fogging Eyewear in Hot Weather

While no product provides 100% fog-proof protection, solutions do exist for all but eliminating fogging as a problem. Consider the following 5 suggestions for eliminating fogged eyewear both as a safety hazard and an annoyance.

  1. Start simple. Often, just a simple change in eyewear design makes all the difference. Changing the style of eyewear may provide the right amount of airflow to prevent fogging.
  2. Use a strap. Non-compliance often comes when workers remove glasses because of fog and fail to put them back on. With the goal of 100% compliance, wearing a strap to keep glasses always at least increases the chance for compliance.
  3. Apply anti-fog coating. In many cases, employers report the almost 100% elimination of problems caused by fogging eyewear after workers are provided with and apply anti-fog coating to their safety eyewear (glasses, goggles & shields). Knowing HowtoUseAnti-FogSolutions may be the key to eliminating fogged-up eyewear.
  4. Buy Anti-Fog Eyewear. Almost uncountable options exist when it comes to finding Anti-FogSafetyGlasses. Options include nearly any lens tint, bifocal lenses, polarized lenses and a variety of frame styles and fits, including those with attached LED lights.
  5. Go extreme. For most, glasses with anti-fog coating are enough to solve the problem, but for a few others (for example, those needing to wear both prescription eyewear and safety eyewear or those working in extreme heat) ExtremeAnti-FogGoggles with specific techniques to reduce fogging in extreme conditions are necessary. Those techniques include dual-pane lenses to eliminate condensation and built-in fans to forcefully remove moisture.

Don’t fall victim to fogging, one of the most common causes of non-compliance, not to mention one of the biggest frustrations regarding safety eyewear. Consider the root cause of your particular fogging problem and then take the necessary steps to eliminate it by implementing one or more of the proposed solutions.

For additional information on this topic, see 7 ThingsYouDidntKnowAboutAnti-FogSafetyGlasses.

When NOT to Wear Tinted Safety Glasses

tinted-safety-glassesWhile many good reasons exist for wearing tinted safety glasses at work — when working for long periods in bright sunshine and during high-intensity light tasks such as welding, for example — there are some situations where NOT wearing tinted lenses is safer.

Night Driving. Unfortunately, no perfectly safe option exists for those wanting to reduce the glare of oncoming headlights when driving at night. In “Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 2,” Michael Eldridge from Safety Glasses USA says,

The bottom line remains that having perfect vision for driving at dawn, dusk or nighttime simply isn’t possible. The first approach should be to remove any obstacles to clear vision… Should you choose to experiment with night driving glasses or even with various lens tints, know clearly that eye experts warn against this as a safe option.”

Any tinted lenses used during low-light conditions will reduce visibility even further because while they darken oncoming headlights, they also darken total surroundings as well making driving less-than safe. Instead, do what you can to eliminate any sources of night vision problems as discussed in “Shedding some Light on Night Driving Challenges, Part  1” before deciding on other options, such as trying tinted lenses.

Low-Light Work Conditions. When working in shaded areas, at dusk, indoors and at night, workers should wear clear lenses to allow proper lighting for the job at hand. All too often, though, workers wear tinted lenses all day, every day, instead of making the switch when necessary.

For up-close work, working in a trench, tight proximity work, using power tools, etc. You should be wearing clear lenses. It’s not a fashion show, it’s a work site,” says John Meola, safety consultant with Invincia Insurance Solutions in Chesterfield, VA in “Ten Tips to Prevent the Construction-Accident High Season.

Fortunately, Safety glasses with interchangeable lenses provide the perfect solution for workers who may spend a great deal of time working in the sun but who also have tasks to perform in low-light conditions.

Constantly-Changing Situations. Some work situations require moving from an outside to an inside environment and back again regularly. Those few moments with a dramatic change in lighting can produce unsafe conditions without the proper safety eyewear. The best options in these situations are NOT transition lenses, however, as many believe.

Photochromic lenses should rarely be authorized since the rate of tint change is too slow to allow movement into and out of buildings where eye injury hazards exist.” (Safety Glasses and Tinted Lenses)

Instead, ANSI recommends using flip-up lenses attached to safety glasses, giving wearers an almost instantaneous view of their surroundings whether inside or outside in the sun.

For sure, individuals exposed to sunlight while working should protect their eyes with tinted safety sunglasses having 99.9% UV protection. But often, situations require using a clear lens to allow for better visibility and thus a safer working situation. Take time to understand when tinted lenses are not the best option and to find a suitable alternative for your specific situation.