Construction workers are at risk of heat-related problems during the summer season. Exposure to high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration. These conditions have serious consequences and can even be fatal, making heat management essential for the good of all personnel.
Proper heat management does not only ensure safety, but it can also improve productivity, reduce the risk of accidents, and create a more comfortable working environment for everyone.
In this article, we will discuss 7 measures you can implement to manage heat and protect workers on the construction site this summer.
7 Ways to Manage Heat in Construction Sites
Our bodies lose a lot of fluids faster during summer. Without enough water, construction employees are at a high risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. To prevent your employees from suffering from these conditions, we recommend it to encourage them to drink water every 15-20 minutes. You can also place water dispensers in cooling areas so workers can drink while taking breaks.
It is also important to remind workers to avoid caffeine and alcohol during or before work hours. Taking caffeine or alcohol can result in urinary fluid loss and can increase the potential for heat stress.
While it is unavoidable for workers to work under the sun, you must consider erecting canopies or umbrellas to provide shade for workers during breaks or when they are not working. Resting in the shade allows your workers to properly cool down.
Air-conditioned breakrooms are also highly recommended.
Wear Light Clothing
Encourage workers to wear light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing to allow proper air circulation to maintain a cool body temperature. These kinds of clothes are not only breathable but also moisture absorbent, which allows the body to cool more quickly.
Always be on the lookout for signs of heat illnesses present in your workers. Heat exhaustion symptoms to look out for are dizziness, headache, sweaty skin, weakness, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and a fast heart rate. On the other hand, heat stroke symptoms include red, hot, dry skin, high temperature, confusion, convulsions, and fainting.
These signs are serious and failing to respond immediately can be fatal. If you notice any of your workers showing any of these symptoms, immediately take them to a cool place and be ready to call emergency personnel if needed.
Make Schedule Adjustments
Consider making adjustments to your schedule to help employees avoid heat stress and heat illnesses. Try scheduling heavy work or hot jobs during the cooler parts of the day. In addition, you can keep an eye out for the heat index to be guided on the schedule, workload, and protective measures.
Whether your workers are working outdoors or indoors, you must encourage them to apply sweat-proof or waterproof sunscreen. This helps prevent sunburn in your workers and also reduces their risk of getting skin cancer.
When you have new workers or those who have been out of work due to an illness or vacation, have them start working at 50% of the normal workload and slowly work up to the full workload over the next 5-7 days. This will help them adjust their bodies to the heat and strenuous activities.
Heat management is one of the core priorities when a construction project is ongoing during summer. Using these 7 heat management measures, you can maximize productivity while also keeping your workers safe and healthy.
- Heat Stress in Construction | Blogs | CDC. (2020, May 21). https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2020/05/21/heat-stress-construction/
- Jones, K. (2022, June 3). Beat the Heat: Keeping Cool at the Construction Site. Construction Connect. https://www.constructconnect.com/blog/keeping-cool-at-the-construction-site
- The Heat is On: 5 Ways for Construction Workers to Keep Cool in Hot Weather | News & Insights | Gray. (n.d.). https://www.gray.com/insights/the-heat-is-on-5-ways-for-construction-workers-to-keep-cool-in-hot-weather/
- Summer Safety: Staying Hydrated in the Summer. (2016, July 15). Jackson Health System. https://jacksonhealth.org/blog/2016-07-15-summer-hydration/#:~:text=Hydration%20is%20always%20important%2C%20but,more%20than%2060%20percent%20water.
- Importance of Choosing the Right Materials in Summer. (2016, June 13). https://www.stocks.co.uk/blog/importance-of-choosing-the-right-materials-in-summer.html#:~:text=Choose%20Materials%20That%20Are%20Breathable&text=In%20order%20to%20stay%20cool,unpleasant%20odours%20and%20bad%20hygiene.