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SAIF reminds employers to spurn the burn

Sun safety and skin care key to battling the blaze

With an excessive heat warning in effect for much of Oregon this week, SAIF wants to remind employers to make heat safety a hot topic in the morning meeting.

"The forecast is comparing this week to late July 2009, when we saw 30 heat-related injuries in just five days," said Tom Melendy, safety management consultant at SAIF. "Injuries like heat exhaustion and dehydration are avoidable if you just plan ahead."

Data from the last ten years shows that occupations like firefighters, truck drivers, laborers, roofers, carpenters, and flaggers more frequently experience heat-related injuries, though anyone with extended exposure to the heat is at risk.

Employers can take the following precautions to ensure their workforce stays safe in the hot days ahead:

  • Schedule frequent breaks in a cool, shaded area. 
  • Remind workers to drink water often (and consider providing water). 
  • Acclimate inexperienced workers (who are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses) by ensuring they don't get more than 20 percent exposure on the first day. Increase by 20 percent each day. 
  • If possible, reschedule outdoor work for the coolest part of the shift, or another day. 
  • Set up a buddy system and monitor workers for signs of heat-related illness.

One thing workers can also focus on is dressing properly for the day. While the temptation may be to wear as little clothing as your dress code policy allows, it's important to prevent another workplace injury: sun burn.

"I'll go to a site and see workers taking every precaution to ensure safety, including wearing proper eye protection, fall safety gear, and hard hats. But I can tell they're not wearing sunscreen-so it's still not a safe workplace," said Melendy.

Oregonians interested in dressing the part can visit saif.com/SunSafetyGame to test their knowledge on safe sun gear.

About SAIF

SAIF is Oregon's not-for-profit workers' compensation insurance company. For more than 100 years, we've been taking care of injured workers, helping people get back to work, and striving to make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work. For more information, visit the About SAIF page on saif.com.