The Big Apple has seen some insufferably hot weather this summer — and it’s only July.
Every summer in the city and elsewhere around the United States, outdoor workers suffer serious complications from heat-induced illnesses, and some even die. Over 40 percent of heat-related on-the-job fatalities happen to those working construction.
Keep workers cool(er) in hot weather
Construction is not done in air-conditioned environments. That’s understood by all involved, but that doesn’t mean that construction company owners and supervisors don’t have to do all they can to protect their workers from suffering heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Learn how companies and workers can reduce the frequency and severity of heat-related maladies on the job.
- Learn about the heat index. It’s not just the heat — it’s the humidity, which is factored into the heat index. The temperature might be 90, but the heat index is 105, which is how hot it actually feels.
- Account for acclimation. Over time, workers acclimate to the hotter weather conditions. But until construction crews have built up their tolerance to the high temps, make sure they are getting breaks from the sun and heat.
- Work with the sun. Whenever possible, foremen should schedule heavy labor tasks in the early morning or evening hours of the work day when it is not quite as hot as it is midday.
- Rotate the heaviest labor jobs. If a worker has to dig a ditch for eight hours under the sweltering sun, he is going to collapse. Alternate the most grueling tasks with lighter jobs to allow workers some relief.
- Provide water and allow more frequent breaks. On the hottest days when workers are really sweating, they should drink water four times an hour. Foremen and safety men can pass out water and/or sport drinks to replace the fluids lost from sweating.
- Have industrial fans on job sites. Along with canopies and other shaded areas, make sure that large fans are placed in strategic locations around the job site so workers can cool down.
- Learn symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Being able to identify the early signs of heat-related conditions can save lives.
Workers who suffer heat-related illnesses on the job may be able to file claims for financial compensation related to their conditions.