It is the time of the year when we need to concern ourselves with heat while working in the construction industry. As you may know from last year, OSHA has a National Emphasis Program relating to working in the heat. The construction industry, known for its physically demanding nature, often exposes workers to various occupational hazards. One of the most prevalent and potentially life-threatening risks is heat illness.
Understanding Heat Illness
Heat illness encompasses a range of conditions, including heat exhaustion and heatstroke, caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures and inadequate hydration. Construction workers engaged in physically demanding tasks, often in direct sunlight, are particularly susceptible to heat-related health problems. Symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, confusion, and in severe cases, loss of consciousness and organ failure.
Prevention and Mitigation
Hydration: Encouraging workers to drink water frequently, even before they feel thirsty, is essential. Access to cool water stations on-site is crucial to promote regular hydration breaks.
Shade and Rest Breaks: Providing shaded areas where workers can take short breaks to cool down and recover from heat stress is vital. Scheduling frequent rest breaks can help prevent overexertion and facilitate recovery.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Lightweight, breathable clothing and wide-brimmed hats should be provided to minimize heat absorption. Additionally, using cooling vests or neck wraps can help regulate body temperature.
Training and Education: Educating workers about the signs and symptoms of heat illness, as well as preventive measures, is crucial. Supervisors and managers should be trained to identify early signs of heat-related stress and respond promptly.
Adjusting Work Schedules: Where possible, scheduling strenuous tasks during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon, can reduce workers’ heat exposure.
Supervision and Monitoring: Regular monitoring of workers’ well-being, especially during heatwaves or extreme weather conditions, is essential. Encouraging a culture of open communication allows workers to report any discomfort or symptoms promptly.
Scott Davidson, Safety and Education Director, is available to further discuss heat-related illnesses and preventitive measures. As a benefit of your membership to MCA/CPCA, there is no fee for the following services provided:
- Job Site Inspections
- Tool Box Talks
- Site Specific Safety Programs
- Help with Third Party Safety Plans (ISNET)
- Onsite, at your shop, or at our facility training (Mobile Elevated Work Platforms, Fall Protection, PPE, Haz Com, OSHA 10, OSHA 30, OSHA Refresher and more)
- Site Specific Safety Consulting (Fall Protection, Confined Space, Trenching and Excavation and more
You can call Scott for more information.