Summary Statement

A handout describing dangers of working outdoors, such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, sun exposure, hypothermia and exposure to plants and animals. Part of a collection. Click on the 'collection' button to access the other items.

This document is one in a program produced under an OSHA grant by a consortium of the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund N.A, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the American Road and Transportation Builders Assn, and the National Asphalt Pavement Assn. All of the documents from this set that are on eLCOSH can be found by clicking on Job Site, Heavy construction, and scrolling to the Street & highway heading. Or to download a complete version of the computerized program, go to h

What Is Our Risk from Sun Exposure?
Skin cancer is the most serious risk.

You are at greater risk if you
  • Have lighter skin with freckles, moles
  • Work at higher elevations
  • Work around reflective material, like water or concrete
You can protect yourself with
  • Long-sleeved shirts, pants in neutral colors
  • Broad-brimmed hat, neck flap
  • Safety glasses with tinted polarizing lenses
  • SPF 15-25 sun block 30 minutes before work, then every 2 to 3 hours
  • Check skin for early signs of cancer, see a dermatologist for check-ups

 How Can We Check for Skin Cancer?
Look for warning signs. See a doctor.

What to look for
  • ASYMMETRY: Most early melanomas are asymmetrical. A line through the middle would not create matching halves.
  • BORDER: Borders of early melanomas are often uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges.
  • COLOR: Varied shades of brown, tan, or black are often the first sign of melanoma. Red, white, and blue may appear later.
  • DIAMETER: Early melanomas tend to grow larger than common moles - at least the size of a pencil eraser.

What Are the Hazards of Hot Weather?
It can lead to heat stress, exhaustion, or stroke.

Heat illnesses can be caused by a combination of
  • Heat exposure
  • High humidity
  • Non-breathing synthetic clothing
  • Not drinking enough fluids to replace sweat
  • Hard work, body heat, not being "acclimatized"
Heat stress
  • Can lead to heat rash, cramps, exhaustion, stroke
  • May be more likely if you are overweight, not fit
  • Alcohol increases risk

What Is Heat Exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion is a dangerous illness.

Heat exhaustion symptoms
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue
  • Dizziness, confusion
  • Nausea
  • Clammy moist skin
  • Pale or flushed complexion
  • Slightly elevated body temperature
Heat exhaustion treatment
  • Rest in a cool, shaded place
  • Drink plenty of water

What Is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke can cause hallucinations, death.

Heat stroke symptoms and treatment
  • Hot dry skin, no sweating, chills, high body temperature, mental confusion, slurred speech
  • Call 911, remove to cool shaded area, soak clothes with water, fan body, apply ice
Protect yourself from HEAT
  • Wear light-colored clothing
  • Gradually build up to heavy work
  • Schedule heavy work during coolest parts of day
  • Take more breaks in extreme heat and humidity
  • Drink lots of water, at least 2 to 3 quarts a day

What Are the Hazards of Cold Weather?
Cold stress can lead to hypothermia, frostbite.

Cold stress is caused by a combination of
  • Cold/cool temperatures (50 F and less)
  • Wet weather and/or conditions
  • High winds (40+ MPH)
  • Inadequate clothing
Cold stress is prevented by
  • Warm layers of correct clothing, head cover, warm gloves, wool socks
  • Keeping dry
  • Breaks in warm areas, drinking hot liquids
  • Keep in good physical shape

What Are the Symptoms?
Hypothermia, frostbite have these symptoms.

  • EARLY: Shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, confusion, and disorientation
  • LATE: No shivering, blue skin, dilated pupils, slowed pulse and breathing, loss of consciousness, and coma
  • Body reduces blood flow to hands and feet to maintain core temperature
  • Fingers or toes can freeze
  • Symptoms include numbness, tingling, aching, and bluish skin
  • Can cause the tissue to die and force amputation
How Are Plants and Animals Hazardous?
They can cause rashes, illness, even death.

Outdoor work may expose you to
  • Bites from animals (dogs, snakes) and from insects and arachnids (bees, wasps, ticks, spiders)
  • Plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, hogweed
To prevent these problems
  • Steer clear of any animals
  • Learn to recognize and avoid poisonous plants
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, use insect repellants
  • Check for tick bites each day for lyme disease (red bullseye)
  • Get prompt medical/first aid treatment for any problems