Summer is peak construction season. With higher temperatures and the sun beating down, it is extremely important construction workers are protecting themselves. Although sunny skies and hot weather doesn’t exactly scream danger, it should not be underestimated. Heat strokes and heat exhaustion are common occurrences for construction workers.
Put simply, a heat stroke is when your body overheats and isn’t able to cool itself down. The more complex explanation of why this happens is because when exposed to extremely high temperatures, the body’s natural temperature regulating mechanisms fail. This then causes an outbreak of a fever or even a loss of consciousness. The main sign of a heat stroke is high body temperature, specifically a core body temperature of 104 F or higher.
Other signs of Heat Stroke include the following:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Racing heart rate
- Not responsive
- Flushed or red skin
- Confusion, irritability, slurred speech, etc.
If you think someone may be experiencing heat stroke, seek medical help immediately.
Heat exhaustion on the other hand, is a less severe version of a heat stroke. Similarly, this occurs when your body is overheated and unable to cool itself down. Heat exhaustion can transcend into a heat stroke if one ignores it and assumes it will go away on its own. It is extremely important to not take the signs of experiencing heat exhaustion lightly! If you notice your skin feels cool and you have goosebumps (despite being outside in the heat) then something is wrong. This is oftentimes an early sign that you are experiencing heat exhaustion and in need of a break from the sun.
Other symptoms indicating heat exhaustion include:
- Intense sweating
- Fainting, dizziness, fatigue
- Low blood pressure
- Nausea, headaches
- Cool skin with goose
- Muscle cramps
So, how do construction workers avoid heat strokes and heat exhaustion this summer? Here are 5 suggestions to help keep workers safe from the sun.
Take Breaks – Your work can wait. By taking frequent breaks and resorting to time in the shade, your body will get the chance to cool down and recover before your return back to the sun. Working straight throughout your shift with no breaks is unsafe.
Drink A LOT of Water – It may sound like common sense to recommend drinking water, but it’s significantly important and a lot of people don’t drink enough of it. Dehydration is the number one cause of overheating and it can lead to fainting or passing out on the job. This could be life-threatening if you are working at a height or with hazardous equipment. Make sure to have water on site that is easily accessible to you. Also, it is a good idea to bring an insulated water bottle that will be able to stay cool outside, despite the high temperatures.
Stay Healthy – Eating healthy, exercising, sleeping well, and taking care of your body will help you stay stronger on the job and make you better equipped to handle the extreme temperatures.
Dress Appropriately – Construction workers must always wear personal protective equipment on the job site, no matter the conditions. However, lighter, more breathable materials will help keep you cooler. Workers may also want to wear sunglasses to keep their eyes protected from the bright sun as well as a hard hat to protect their head from direct sunlight. Other items to consider include a nape protector or bandana to shield your neck from direct sunlight. Last but not least, be sure to apply sun screen in the morning and regularly throughout the day to protect your skin from getting burnt!
Check the weather and plan accordingly – Check to see when the hottest part of the day is. This way, you can schedule your work around this particular hour or hours (if possible) and try to get your tasks done in milder conditions, like the morning or the evening. Although busy work schedules don’t always allow for this flexibly, it is good to keep in mind if you do have the option.
Article Adapted from: https://www.degemmill.com/summer-safety-tips-construction/