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Keeping Your Cool on the Job

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
July 21, 2010

If you can’t take the heat and you work outside—or inside without air conditioning--make sure you pay attention to the guidelines issued by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. They call for frequent breaks, staying hydrated and using caution.

When the temperature soars to unhealthy highs, the OEH&S issues a heat alert, advising those who work outside to move to shady areas or indoors or modify their schedules. If remaining outdoors, wear light clothing and drink plenty of water.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists suggests people whose outdoor jobs demand heavy or moderate exertion work for a quarter-hour and rest for three-quarters of an hour, for each hour of work.

Individuals whose work requires light exertion should follow a 50 percent work, 50 percent rest schedule.

Staff members who work indoors but don’t have air conditioning can ask to relocate temporarily to an office that has A/C, such as Dimond Library, or, if possible, work from home. Or, a supervisor may let the employee leave for the day.

Whether the work is done inside or out, supervisors can opt to send staff home with pay if their work environment becomes intolerable, according to the OEH&S. Staff will not be required to use leave time/earned time in this instance.

Even some offices that do have air conditioning don’t feel cool when the thermometer hits the high 80s or 90s. Remember to keep your blinds closed and your windows shut. Keep your lights off. Drink lots of water; eat small meals (your body works harder, generating heat, when you eat a big meal). If you start to feel overheated, run your wrists under cool water.  And don’t forget to use sunscreen when walking across campus.

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