The summer season comes with some awesome health benefits. Largely due to the weather, people are much more active during the summer than they are during the colder months of the year. People are walking, biking, hiking, running, and participating in healthy leisurely activities like gardening.
Unfortunately, sometimes these summertime activities can bring additional health risks to your employees. While this doesn’t mean your employees should stay inside all summer long, employees should still be aware of any potential health hazards the season has to offer.
With a little bit of prevention, employees can enjoy the summertime in all its glory without having to fear any summer health risks. Keep on reading to learn about seven summer health hazards and some tips on how to avoid them.
Like we mentioned earlier, most people are more active in the summer. In many parts of the country, the summer season also brings brutal heat. When you’re moving around more and dealing with extreme heat, your body needs more water.
It’s a simple problem with a simple solution. You use more water as you move around and sweat, so you need to drink more water on a daily basis to replenish. Employers can help employees stay extra hydrated this summer by educating employees about the benefits of drinking more water, starting a water challenge, and keeping fresh, cold water readily available to employees.
The heat doesn’t just mean you’re more likely to get dehydrated. Extreme heat comes with many dangers if you’re not careful. You and your employees should understand the symptoms and risks of heat exhaustion. According to Mayo Clinic, some common symptoms of heat exhaustion that you should look out for include:
- Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
- Heavy sweating
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Low blood pressure upon standing
- Muscle cramps
With this type of health hazard, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. When ignored, heat exhaustion can quickly become life-threatening. So, tell your employees to take any warning signs seriously and stay conscious of how much time and exertion they spend in the extreme heat.
#3 Bug Bites
Bug bites might not seem like a big deal. Sure they’re itchy and annoying, but they don’t pose any actual health risks – right? Unfortunately, bug bites can be very dangerous if your employees aren’t careful. Serious diseases like West Nile or Lyme disease can be spread through bug bites.
In fact, tick and mosquito-borne diseases have more than tripled since 2004 in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that ticks, mosquitos, and fleas are a growing health risk for our country.
Help employees reduce their risk of being harmed by bug bites by educating them on safety habits. Provide employees with travel-sized bug spray and send out informative emails encouraging employees to cover-up in buggy situations and keep bug spray with them at all times.
Spending too much time in the sun without proper protection increases the risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and affects millions of Americans each year. Without practicing proper sun safety habits, your employees face a greater risk of developing skin cancer.
Be sure you and your employees are prepared to stay sun-safe this summer. You can bring this issue to the top of your employees’ minds by providing things like DermaView testing or skin cancer education. You might even consider providing some travel-sized sunscreens to your employees. Employers can also download our free sun safety guide to pass around the office.
#5 Stress and Burnout
It might seem like summer should be the stress-free season of relaxation. Unfortunately, recent research has found that to be the opposite of the truth. In fact, many employees are actually more stressed out during the summer season.
Many of your employees are focused on summer factors happening outside the office. That can lead to procrastination, work pileups, and low morale. Balancing work and life in the busy summer season can be a huge stressor for you and your employees. Be sure to help your employees deal with summertime stressors by offering flexibility, providing opportunities for stress relief, and encouraging healthy habits.
Alcohol abuse can be a health hazard any time of year. In the summer, though, the risk can be heightened due to some of the activities people do while they’re drinking. With beautiful weather and holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day, many people spend weekends hanging out at lakes and beaches. That’s when alcohol consumption can become a potentially dangerous situation.
While employers can’t control what their employees do outside of the office, they can still encourage them to make smart decisions when it comes to the summer parties and office outings they attend. Employers should be sure to serve alcohol safely to employees at work functions and provide education on the risks of overconsumption.
#7 Poor Nutrition
With the “on-the-go” nature of summer, it can be easy to let nutritional goals fly out the window. It’s more appealing to go enjoy dinner, drinks, or appetizers with friends and family than it is to stay home and meal prep.
The nice thing about summer is that the opposite can also true. With the abundance of gardens and farmer’s markets, employers can use their wellness program to combat the poor nutritional habits that can sneak up on employees. Share healthy, easy recipes in a weekly email blast, cater in healthy choices, and host a healthy company picnic to encourage healthy eating habits among your workforce.
While there’s no secret weapon to prevent every summer hazard, the best thing you can do for your employees during this summer season is to help them prepare for any of these potential health risks. Use your wellness program to raise awareness of these summertime hazards and promote healthy summer habits. With a bit of preparation, your employees can enjoy a safe, active, and happy summer.
What other healthy habits can employees adopt to stay safe over the summer season? Let us know in the comment section below!
Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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