By: Alec Schaufenbuel
Summer time in the construction industry is generally a very busy time of year. However, as our production increases so does the outdoor temperature. Higher temperatures bring an additional set of risks to our jobsites. There are things we can do to protect ourselves and our co-workers to help get everyone home safely at the end of the day.
The easiest ways to start protecting yourself as temperatures and humidity rise – take breaks more frequently and drink MORE water!
Of course proper heat safety doesn’t just happen on the jobsite. Many of us can take protective measure before we even leave the house.
- Dress appropriately. Loose, moisture wicking clothes and sunscreen
- Eat and drink to stay hydrated.
- Hydrating foods include: fruits, vegetables, and sauces.
- Beverages such as milk, water, and sports drinks are great while alcohol, soda, and sugary drinks (like lemonade) should be avoided.
To determine the frequency and duration of breaks that are recommended throughout the day, reference both the Heat Index Chart and the Urine Color Chart. If the temperature gets into the DANGER zone listed on the heat index chart, allow for a MINIMUM of two extra breaks in both the morning and afternoon. If the temperature gets to the EXTREME DANGER zone, outdoor work should be seriously reconsidered and discussed with the Neumann safety team.
We recommend posting the urine color chart on or near the bathroom facilities on each project. This allows workers to have a better idea of what their hydration levels are. Employees who know they are getting dehydrated are more likely to correct the situation themselves before becoming ill.
Signs that someone is struggling in the heat:
- Hot/flushed skin
- Profound Sweating
NOTE: if someone was sweating profusely and is now dry, get that person to a hospital IMMEDIATELY – they are in serious danger.
If someone is displaying any or all of these symptoms:
- Have them move to a cool area out of sunlight
- Get them water or sports drinks
- Remove any tight clothing, PPE (if safe to do so), or tool belts
- Get a fan on them if available
- Dip a towel in ice water and place it around the neck
If these actions fail to relieve the symptoms within 15 minutes, or if at any time their condition worsens, seek emergency medical attention.