Heat: How pool builders can beat it this summer

June 11, 2019

By Steve Leslie 

Many pool builders prefer to work shirtless in the hot summer; however, if they do not use sunscreen, this can pose a dangerous health concern.[1]
Many pool builders prefer to work shirtless in the hot summer; however, if they do not use sunscreen, this can pose a dangerous health concern.

 

 

 

 

Heat can be issue for pool-builders and is often overlooked. With all the technology and equipment available today, combined with an ever-growing demand of customers beckoning for one’s attention, pool builders often overlook their health. It is something that seems so subtle, but overall is vital to the success and progress a company makes each year. If ignored, one is likely to face severe consequences. Most industry professionals may not fully comprehend the severity of the subject and may choose to ignore it altogether.

A healthy body is the key to staying successful in any profession, especially in the pool and spa industry. Poor planning, improper diet, and over-stimulated workers are disadvantageous to a business. For example, when is an employee more liable to cause injury on a jobsite? Is it due to improper training or inadequate thinking? If a staff member is exhausted, filled with brain fog, and does not feel well, are they going to be beneficial to a company/customer or will they cause more harm than good? What happens when this employee is diagnosed with a serious health condition and suddenly decides to sue the company for it?

This article will take a closer look at some of the health issues that can result from working outdoors, such as skin cancer and heat-related illnesses, prevention of these diseases, and basic ways for workers to maintain proper nutrition throughout the busy months.

The effects of sun exposure

According to a Huffington Post article, nearly 13 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year; of these, approximately one in every three individuals is detected with a form of skin cancer. [2]Non-melanoma cases have increased more than 77 per cent between 1994 and 2014, while instances of melanoma have gone up by 53 per cent between 2008 and 2018[3].

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates cases of melanoma have been on the rise throughout the past couple decades due to the depleting ozone layer. This layer helps to block out ultraviolet (UV) rays such as UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. Although UV-C rays are the most harmful, they are completely blocked out by the ozone layer. However, its power to block out UV-A and UV-B rays continues to decrease each year, which can result in substantial damage to the body. There are many ways to defend one’s body against the harmful rays of the sun: UV-A rays can be resisted with items such as sunglasses, hats, and clothing while UV-B rays can be prevented with sunscreen and sunglasses.

Sunglasses protect the eyes against UV-A and UV-B rays from the sun. When buying these, one must look for labels tagged either ‘UV absorption up to 400 nm’ or ‘Meets the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) UV requirements’ to ensure the glasses resist 99 per cent of both types of UV rays. Second, if one is working outdoors and is not required to wear a helmet, a wide-brimmed hat is a good choice. The hat not only protects one’s head from the harmful UV rays, but also shields their face and neck. Third, many pool builders prefer to work shirtless in the hot summer sun as long as they use sunscreen; however, this can pose a dangerous health concern—although sunscreen is supposed to protect against UV-A and UV-B rays, only the latter can be measured with the sun protection factor (SPF). The SPF relates to the amount of time an individual needs to be exposed in the sun to have a minute’s worth of UV-B rays penetrate their skin. For example, SPF 30 means for every 30 minutes a person spends in the sun, UV-B rays will penetrate their skin for only one minute.[4]

heat Although UV rays are harmful, there are other serious illnesses associated with working outdoors in the hot weather, which must be monitored closely. [5]
Although UV rays are harmful, there are other serious illnesses associated with working outdoors in the hot weather, which must be monitored closely.

Therefore, a worker may be using and re-applying sunscreen as indicated; however, the amount of UV-A rays absorbed by the skin remains unknown and can be harmful. Fortunately, there are clothes specifically designed to protect against UV-A rays and are marked with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label, which refers to the amount of rays that can infiltrate the fabric. For example, if the label says 40, then 1/40 of the UV-A rays will penetrate through the fabric. Therefore, the higher the number on the label, the less rays will make it through to the skin.[6]

Although UV rays are harmful, there are other serious illnesses associated with working outdoors in the hot weather, which must be monitored closely. It is easy to overlook the symptoms of heat-related illnesses when trying to appease customer demands; however, this ignorance can often result in severe injury or loss of revenue. The five common heat-related illnesses include:

  1. Heat stroke

Pool builders should try and complete their work in the morning and/or avoid working in full sun. heat[7]
Pool builders should try and complete their work in the morning and/or avoid working in full sun.

This is the most severe heat-related illness a pool worker must watch for. If not monitored properly, it can creep up without much warning. Common symptoms include confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, seizures, dry or profuse sweating, and/or a high body temperature. If the illness is not treated immediately, it can result in permanent disability or even death as the body loses control of regulating its temperature. If one comes across a team member experiencing similar symptoms, they should call 911 for emergency care and cool the patient down as quickly as possible. Some cooling suggestions include a cold shower, ice bath, or even cold rags. It is important to take the necessary steps to lower the patient’s body temperature as soon as possible so it does not overheat too much as their life depends on it.

  1. Heat exhaustion

This illness is the result of extreme loss of water and salt from the body. A worker may experience symptoms such as a headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature, and decreased urine output. Given the situation, an advisable action would be to take the patient to a cool area and give them plenty of cool liquids to drink; wash their head, face, and neck with cold water to help their body cool down; and ensure they keep themselves hydrated. It is also recommended the patient gets a medical evaluation before resuming work.

  1. Rhabdomyolysis

Rhabdomyolysis is a condition that refers to heat stress and prolonged physical exertion, resulting in the quick deterioration of muscle. The illness can lead to irregular heart rhythms, seizures, and even damage to kidneys. This condition is a result of electrolytes and large proteins being released into the bloodstream. Other symptoms include muscle cramps and pain, abnormally dark coloured urine (cola coloured), weakness, exercise intolerance; it can even be asymptomatic (a condition or person that shows no symptoms). The recommended procedure for treating rhabdomyolysis is to stop activity, drink water, seek immediate medical assistance, and request an evaluation.

  1. Heat syncope

This can be a dangerous condition, depending on where it takes place. Heat syncope refers to fainting or dizziness from prolonged standing or sudden rising from a sitting or lying position. Two factors that may contribute to the condition include dehydration and lack of acclimatization. This illness can cause severe injury if its symptoms arise while on a jobsite as there is potential for a person to fall and hurt themselves. Should such a situation arise, it is recommended the patient drink plenty of water and intake a carbohydrate-electrolyte replacement liquid every 15-20 minutes (avoid salt tablets). Also, one must seek medical help if they have a heart condition, are on a low-sodium diet, or if the symptoms persist for more than an hour.

  1. Heat rash

Although a heat rash is considered the least severe condition associated with heat-related illnesses, it should not be taken lightly. It is the result of extreme sweating in hot, humid weather. The affected areas generally include the neck, upper chest, groin, under the breasts, and elbow creases. The most visible symptom of a rash is a red cluster of sores that look like pimples or small blisters. To treat these symptoms, one must try to work in a less humid environment (often not possible in this industry), keep rash areas dry, and use powder to help increase comfort. Ointments and creams are not recommended. [8]

Proper nutrition ensures good health

It is imperative one understands how to prevent heat-related illnesses, as they can sneak up on a person. With proper prevention systems in place for working outdoors in the hot weather, there is one crucial factor workers need to pay attention to—nutrition. Individuals who have been involved in some kind of athletic activity will agree to the importance of nutrition in any given program. One can go to the gym and work out as much as they want, but without the proper diet, the results will be less than satisfactory. Poor nutrition is one of the main contributors to diseases like cancer and heart attacks. The author suggests a few tips to check one’s diet and ensure they receive proper nutrition.

Staying hydrated

Drinking water is the most important of them all. As noted in the heat-related illnesses, water plays a crucial role in the prevention and treatment of each situation. Although water intake recommendations may vary from one person to another, there are general recommendations of 3.7 L (0.9 gal) for males and 2.7 L (0.7 gal) for females.[9]One must remember to increase their water intake when working outdoors in hot weather. Note: One must drink plenty of water, not coffee, cola, or fruit juice as the caffeine and sugar will stress out the adrenal glands, leaving one feeling fatigued. A lack of energy can be a result of dehydration. Staying hydrated is part of the equation for staying healthy and energized each day.

Diet

Health. Nuts are one of the most basic snacks to stock in a service truck, preferably almonds; however, sunflower seeds or even regular peanuts are good choices, too.[10]
Nuts are one of the most basic snacks to stock in a service truck, preferably almonds; however, sunflower seeds or even regular peanuts are good choices, too.

The next part of the equation relies on the food one eats. This can be an issue for many workers who choose to skip meals in order to cater to immediate customer demands. Therefore, snacking throughout the day may be the most beneficial component to add. Nuts are one of the most basic snacks to stock in a service truck, preferably almonds; however, sunflower seeds or even regular peanuts are good choices, too. Nuts contain good fats (to keep one feeling full) and are a high source of fibre. They can also sustain hot environments for a long period of time (e.g. can be stored in a service truck).

Next would be to pack some apples, bananas, or even avocados in a lunch box as they are good sources of carbohydrates, potassium, and magnesium. This diet will help sustain energy and retain water in the body. One can also include dark, leafy greens in their meals, such as spinach or broccoli. These foods provide a large number of minerals, and therefore, are referred to as ‘super foods.’

Finally, the author suggests looking at intermittent fasting. An understanding of how to eat one’s food properly in a specific time block will benefit those who eat one meal a day. One of the benefits of intermittent fasting is heightened mental alertness, which can be beneficial, but must be researched beforehand. A doctor or a nutritionist must be consulted first. Intermittent fasting is a basic, achievable plan for those who are unable to find the time to eat throughout the day[11].

Stay healthy, stay fit

In conclusion, there are many factors one must consider to stay healthy while working outdoors in the hot weather. Although it may seem like a basic topic, it is often overlooked. Investing the time to understand the effects of heat-related illnesses, formulating a plan for prevention and treatment, along with following a nutritious diet will lead to a healthier and lucrative lifestyle for pool and spa professionals. A healthy body is a recipe that can help grow and sustain a business for years to come.

Tips to remain healthy while on the job

There are some general tips workers can follow to prevent themselves from falling sick due to long hours of sun exposure, including:

As an employer, one can also assist in the prevention of heat-related illnesses.

[13]Steve Leslie is the customer service manager at Highbury Pools, a manufacturer and distributor of pool products, including steel walls, equipment, and vinyl liners, based in London, Ont. He has four years of experience in the pool industry, is also a real estate investor, has worked for the Canadian Department of National Defence, and is a former business owner. He can be reached via e-mail at steve@highburypools.com.

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://www.poolspamarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Shirtless-Worker.jpg
  2. According to a Huffington Post article, nearly 13 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year; of these, approximately one in every three individuals is detected with a form of skin cancer. : http://www.huffpost.com/entry/world-cancer-day-a-declar_n_818472?guccounter=1.
  3. Non-melanoma cases have increased more than 77 per cent between 1994 and 2014, while instances of melanoma have gone up by 53 per cent between 2008 and 2018: http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts
  4. SPF 30 means for every 30 minutes a person spends in the sun, UV-B rays will penetrate their skin for only one minute.: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer/prevention-and-early-detection/uv-protection.html
  5. [Image]: https://www.poolspamarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/IMG_6252.jpg
  6. Therefore, the higher the number on the label, the less rays will make it through to the skin.: http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/clothing
  7. [Image]: https://www.poolspamarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Thermometer.jpg
  8. keep rash areas dry, and use powder to help increase comfort. Ointments and creams are not recommended. : http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/heatrelillness.html
  9. Although water intake recommendations may vary from one person to another, there are general recommendations of 3.7 L (0.9 gal) for males and 2.7 L (0.7 gal) for females.: http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2004/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-Water-Potassium-Sodium-Chloride-and-Sulfate.aspx
  10. [Image]: https://www.poolspamarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/bigstock-Mix-Nuts-And-Dried-Fruits-Back-296572843.jpg
  11. but must be researched beforehand. A doctor or a nutritionist must be consulted first. Intermittent fasting is a basic, achievable plan for those who are unable to find the time to eat throughout the day: https://traceminerals.com/hydration-electrolytes-it-takes-more-than-just-water-for-proper-hydration/?fbclid=IwAR305qjdl3FdZaZNRNhvnkFlAOF
  12. Recommend proper attire and sunscreen: http://www.workplacesafety%20north.ca/news/news-post/how-manage-heat-stress-workplace
  13. [Image]: https://www.poolspamarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Leslie_Headshot.jpg

Source URL: https://www.poolspamarketing.com/trade/features/heat-how-pool-builders-can-beat-it-this-summer/