How Crews Can Stay Cool in the Summer Heat

Posted July 12, 2017

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

1.  Adjust Job Schedules

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.Crew member working in the evening

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.  Provide Extra Breaks

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 keeping coolers of water or sports drinks on the jobsite.
  • The next time you order supplies from the ABC Supply catalog, consider adding water coolers or damp cooling towels that crew members can wear around their necks to your list.

3. Train Your Crew to Recognize the Hazards of Heat

Properly training your crew members on the hazards of heat stress and how to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion 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 symptoms and treatment of heat illness. 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 utilize a buddy system to keep tabs on fellow workers and alert their supervisor should anyone show signs of overheating.

Over 40 percent of heat-related, on-the-job deaths occur in the construction industry.* Follow these tips to keep your crews safe and productive this summer. See our infographic for information on preparing for another one of summer’s greatest challenges: storms.   

 

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