Protecting Workers from High-Heat in Construction
By Corporate Safety Director Bob Walsh
With the summer upon us, we will all experience extreme temperatures, high humidity, and poor air quality at some point. These extreme conditions set the stage for serious medical concerns regarding the safety of the workers on our jobsites. Heat exhaustion and stroke can occur; both major life-threatening conditions.
There are ways you can immediately raise awareness and precautions. Below are some helpful tips for monitoring jobsite safety:
- Constantly monitor workers for symptoms of heat distress, such as extreme physical weakness, light-headedness, dizziness, headaches, rapid heartbeat, slowed breathing, dry skin, pale skin color, and sunburn.
- Consider temporarily adjusting the start and end times of construction to correspond with current weather conditions
- Rent larger space fans for work in confined spaces such as attics or upper floors.
- Take advantage of available shady areas to perform work in.
- Allow more frequent rest breaks in shady areas and make drinking water plentifully available to all work areas.
Workers on jobsites should be encouraged to do the following:
- Wear lightweight, lightly-colored, loose clothing that covers as much of their body as possible.
- Drink water (or Gatorade) frequently throughout the day, eating lighter meals or snacks. Do not eat or add additional salt to your diet – this can further dehydrate your body!
- Take breaks offered by supervisors.
- Encourage workers to report any medical symptoms of distress or illness to their supervisor, immediately. Have the affected worker move to a shady area, cool their body down by wiping their skin with a damp cloth, and give them cold water to sip on. Call an ambulance right away.
Let’s all do our part to stay safe in these high-heat summer months!