Many Tucson residents are required to be in extreme heat or work in hot environments throughout the summer months. At Cox, we have hundreds of employees working outside during Arizona summer months, so this is a top concern. This can put those workers at risk of heat stress, which can result in occupational illnesses and injuries including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat rashes. Here are some tips that we employ at Cox and can help ensure that your employees are safe in the heat.
- Provide training. Offer training for employees who work outdoors so they understand what heat stress is, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be prevented.
- Implement heat-friendly uniforms. During the hot Arizona summer, you will see Cox field employees wearing light-colored clothing, Bermuda shorts, golf shirts and wide brimmed hats, that will protect them from harsh sunrays. Be sure to remind your employees to wear sunscreen as well to avoid burns.
- Encourage skin checks. The Arizona sun can be harsh on our bodies. Encourage employees to schedule yearly exams at their dermatologist to stay proactive against skin cancer caused by sun exposure.
- Update summer hours. Consider allowing employees to begin their workdays earlier to avoid being outdoors in the afternoon. In the summer, we allow our field teams to start their days as early as 7 a.m. and also restrict technicians from working in customers’ attics after 10:00am when temperatures are particularly high, so this work is scheduled first thing in the morning.
- Offer free resources. When temperatures reach 110 degrees, Cox supervisors are in the field, passing out Gatorade, Propel, towels and water to field technicians, which is not only a chance to keep our teams hydrated but also allows leaders to check in with those working outside all day.
- Implement regular rest periods. Ensure employees have adequate amounts of time to rest indoors during workdays. We hold our company meetings in the afternoons so employees can take a break in the cool indoors.
- Start a hydration challenge. Promote proper hydration by challenging employees to drink at least 100 ounces of water each day. The person who logs 100 ounces every day could win a prize!
- Set up shaded areas. If possible, set up frame tents or canopies at the jobsite to give employees a place to retreat from the sun. Fans with misters are also a great way to cool down.
- Distribute emergency alerts. Set up an alert system that sends text messages to employees who are outdoors during extreme heat or dust storm warnings.
- Create a buddy system. Assign each employee a “buddy” to check in with on a daily basis to ensure everyone is safe and accounted for.
Lisa Lovallo, a lifetime Arizonan, is the Southern Arizona market vice president for Cox Communications, leading a team of 250+ Southern Arizona Cox employees. Prior to joining the Cox Southern Arizona team, Lisa ran a family business based in Tucson and is a graduate of the University of Arizona. Reach her at email@example.com.