While equally important, in the construction industry, safety requires more than just wearing a hard hat and protective googles. The weather can also prove to be a significant safety hazard for construction workers. To help ensure the safety of our construction workers during the summer months, here are six heat safety tips you should be aware of.
Know the Signs
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people suffer heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. Because heat-related illnesses are 100% preventable, it’s important for people to be aware of the warning signs of these two potentially life-threatening illnesses, and know when to seek immediate medical attention.
Warning Symptoms: Heat Exhaustion
Breathing that is shallow and fast, headaches, excessive sweating, pale or clammy skin, muscle cramps, tiredness, disorientation, nausea or vomiting, fainting, and a rapid, weak pulse. The skin may feel moist and cool to the touch. Get to a cool, air conditioned place, apply cool compresses and if conscious, rehydrate.
Warning Symptoms: Heat Stroke
Dizziness, a high body temperature (above 103˚F degrees), red, hot and dry skin without sweating, a rapid, strong pulse, a throbbing headache, nausea or vomiting, disorientation and possibly, loss of consciousness. If you see any of these signs, have someone call 9-1-1 while you begin cooling the victim.
Pace your work and take frequent breaks. This is especially important if you’re not accustomed to working in the heat. It may take several weeks for a person’s body to adjust to working in a hot environment. Lastly, it’s important to use the “buddy system;” working in pairs during the heat so that symptoms can be effectively communicated.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drink plenty of water and other liquids. Don’t wait to rehydrate until you’re thirsty. Adults should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. More if you exercise or spend a lot of time outdoors. Avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks. These can lead to dehydration and increase the effects of heat-related illnesses.
Wear Appropriate Clothing and Sunscreen
Protect yourself from the sun by wearing lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing (also keeps you cooler). You should also wear a wide-brimmed hat along with sunglasses. Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels) 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply throughout the day following package directions.
Use Common Sense
- Avoid hot, enclosed spaces, such as cars
- Eat meals that are well-balanced and light
- Try to stay in relatively cool areas during breaks