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3 Tips for Preventing Heat Stress on the Jobsite

June 12, 2018

Summer temperatures and heat illnesses such as sunburn, exhaustion, and sunstroke have the potential to affect productivity and safety for contractors and crew members working outside. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your crew stays cooled down, and productivity stays up.

1. Adjust Job Schedules to Avoid Working Too Long in High HeatTeam members roofing

The middle of the day is the hottest and most hazardous for working outside. Consider adjusting your schedule to make it easier for your crew to safely get the job done:

  • Schedule the heaviest workload for cooler parts of the day, like early mornings and evenings.
  • Plan to have your crew work in two shifts—one in the morning and one in the evening—with a break in between.

If heavy work must be done throughout the day, have your team rotate through jobs, so the same crew members aren’t doing the most intensive jobs all day. Keep an eye on those wearing thick clothing or protective gear, and allow them to rotate jobs or take extra breaks.

Also, be sure to track how many hours your crew members are putting in. Even if they want to work overtime, it may not be safe to spend those extra hours in the heat.

2. Create a Shady Hydration Station to Provide Relief From the Heat

When crew members are feeling the effects of the heat, they will be less productive. Allow them to take extra breaks whenever they’re feeling too hot and encourage them to stay hydrated:

  • If the jobsite has no shade, set up a canopy tent to create a rest area out of the sun.
  • Make it easy for your crew to stay hydrated by creating hydration stations at the jobsite, complete with coolers of water or sports drinks.
  • The next time you order supplies from the ABC Supply catalog, consider adding water coolers or damp cooling towels to your list that crew members can wear around their necks.

3. Train Your Crew to Recognize Heat Stress SymptomsLaborer taking a water break

Properly training your crew members on the hazards of heat exhaustion and how to recognize heat stress symptoms is crucial to having a safe summer. You can also encourage them to download OSHA’s Heat Safety app, which provides updates on your local heat index and information on heat illness symptoms and treatment. Some common heat-related symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Heat rash, which causes red bumps on the skin where sweat does not evaporate.
  • Muscle spasms and pain in the abdomen, arms or legs, which is a sign of heat cramps.
  • Nausea, weakness, dizziness and light-headedness, which, if not treated, can lead to heat stroke.

Once you’ve educated your crews on the symptoms of heat illness, they can use a buddy system to keep tabs on fellow workers and alert their supervisor should anyone show signs of overheating.

More than 40 percent of heat-related, on-the-job deaths occur in the construction industry.* These tips can help you keep your crew safe and productive in the heat, but chances are the heat isn’t your only challenge this summer. See our infographic for information on preparing for another one of this season’s greatest challenges: storms.   

 

* https://www.osha.gov/heat/index.html