The summer heat can be detrimental to many people, especially construction workers. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have specific standards about occupational heat exposure, but workers’ rights do state that working conditions must not pose a risk of serious harm. This includes heat exhaustion and heatstroke. The Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) reflects the same information.
OSHA published an infosheet outlining factors that might increase a construction worker’s risk during the summer months, health problems caused by increased temperatures, and how construction sites can help prevent these problems.
Here are some of the risks for construction workers during the summer season:
There are several ways extreme heat can negatively impact construction workers. Heatstroke is one of the more severe problems. Heatstroke occurs when the body’s temperature regulating system fails, causing it to rise to critical levels. It may even lead to death.
Heatstroke is dangerous for anyone, but even more so for construction workers. Employers have a responsibility to keep their employees safe. They should provide water, shade and designated breaks. Project managers should also plan for emergencies and train their team to watch for signs of heatstroke or heat exhaustion, as well as remind them to drink water even before they start feeling thirsty. This stimulates good hydration. OSHA recommends drinking one cup of water every 15-20 minutes. In addition to good hydration, workers should eat regular meals and snacks. The food consumed should provide enough salt and electrolytes to replace what the body loses from sweat.
Construction sites can be dangerous places to work, and those dangers only increase during periods of extreme weather. Take precautions and be safe. It’s important to note that If any worker shows signs of heatstroke, call medical services immediately.
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