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How Heat Illness Affects Your Construction Employees and How to Help Keep them Safe from the July Heat

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In honor of OSHA’s nationwide Heat Illness Awareness Campaign, we’ve decided to compile information to help you keep your employees safe from the summer heat. Anyone who is exposed to hot and humid conditions is susceptible to falling ill from heat. Workers in the construction industry know all too well how quickly the heat can bog your body down, and the detrimental effect it can have on projects.

The signs from heat illnesses include everything from light-headedness and dehydration to heat rash and heat stroke. In the construction industry, no one is immune. It is important to note that workers who are returning from leave, temporary workers, and new employees are at a greater risk for developing a heat illness. This is because their bodies haven’t built up a resistance to heat. Below, we’ll cover some useful tips to help you keep your construction employees safe from the sun’s harmful rays.

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What You Can Do To Prevent Heat Illness in Construction Sites

If you’re a foreman or manager of a construction project, a few things you can encourage employees to do to help keep them safe from heat illnesses include:

  • Rest in the shade
  • Drink water every 15 minutes
  • Wear hats and light-colored clothing
  • Learn and identify the signs of heat illness
  • Learn what to do in an emergency
  • Be mindful of fellow employees
  • Allow a new construction employee to take it easy the first few days in the heat

Be Prepared for Heat Illnesses on Your Construction Sites

The employees most affected by heat-induced illnesses are landscaping workers, construction workers, transportation and utility employees, agriculture workers, ground maintenance crews, and support personnel for oil and gas operations. Jobs that require a skilled laborer to stand in direct sunlight for long amounts of time can have extreme effects on the human body.

Knowing the signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration can help your team to identify and correct situations before they get out of hand. It’s also a good idea to have first aid training to ensure you know how to handle all emergencies before first responders can make it on the scene to help your construction employee.

Refrain From Pushing Construction Employees in High Temperatures

It’s normal to want to see a project through to completion. However, your employees aren’t robots. They need to take breaks and rest just as frequently as you do. If you’ve been on the job site for thirty minutes, and you’re ready to hop back into your car and crank the AC, your employees don’t feel much better. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re hot enough to sit down, your employees probably are too. Allow frequent small breaks and time for rehydration. The better you take care of your employees, the less stress you’ll have this summer.

Educate Your Staff on Heat Illnesses

While you’re educating yourself on heat illness prevention, take the time to inform your staff about what they can do to keep their fellow workers safe this summer. There is plenty of online resources available to help you steer your staff in the right direction. Whether you want to participate in first aid training as a company, or share the warning signs of heat illness with your staff, both can be extremely beneficial to your team this summer.


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