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Construction Job Site Safety: Tips to Avoid Heat Illness

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Sunshine

Safety is paramount on a construction job site, and in the summer it’s important that construction workers know how to identify heat illness and review tips for staying cool and avoiding this safety hazard. Heat illness is a serious safety concern and without proper precautions can even lead to death.

What is Heat Illness?

Heat becomes a safety issue and causes heat illness when the human body cannot sufficiently cool itself and maintain a normal temperature. Factors that contribute to this include:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Quantity of air movement
  • Temperature of surroundings
  • Clothing
  • Physical activity (metabolic heat load)
  • Inadequate water intake

Heat illness covers a range of medical conditions that can arise when the body is unable to properly cope with working in heat. These conditions include:

  • Heat stroke – a life threatening condition that requires immediate first aid and medical attention
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat rash
  • Heat fatigue
  • Worsening of pre-existing illnesses and conditions

Keep hydratedTips to Avoid Heat Related Illness on the Job Site

  • Drink cool water – at least 8 ounces every 15 – 20 minutes
  • Acclimatize to the temperature and avoid going in and out of A/C too quickly
  • Wear light, loose fitting clothing that also protects the skin from the sun’s U/V. A material with wicking will transfer heat and sweat away from the body. Keep your head and neck covered to avoid sunburn
  • Hire extra workers for your crew to lessen the workload in high temperatures
  • Schedule jobs so that the hotter jobs are done in the cooler part of the day
  • Train employees on heat safety

Heat Illness Sign and Symptoms

  • Chills
  • Headache
  • High body temperature
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness, hallucinations
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dry skin or heavy sweating

Heat Stroke First Aid

The first thing to do if you suspect a co-worker is suffering from heat stroke is to call 911. Immediately move the worker out of the sun to a cool, shaded area. Attempt to cool the worker by soaking them with water.

For additional tips, check out Safety Consultant John Meola’s 12 tips to Survive another “Nuclear Summer”.

Additional Resources:
CDC Heat Stress
OSHA Heat Safety App
OSHA’s Heat Safety Training Guide

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