In San Diego, sunny skies and warm weather year-round mean building projects are constantly underway. However, the sounds of jackhammers, heavy equipment, and busy construction crews really kick into high gear during summer. And, as the temperatures continue to climb, so does the risk of health problems caused by exposure to extreme heat.
According to OSHA statistics, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job in 2014. Luckily, heat illnesses and deaths are can be prevented by taking extra precautions in hot and humid work conditions.
Construction companies have a certain responsibility to provide a work environment that’s free of known safety hazards, but it is also a worker’s duty to know the risks of a job site and take the proper safety measures to avoid them. This includes protection against extreme heat. Here are a few safety tips for avoiding summer hazards while working in construction:
Drink plenty of water, even if you’re not thirsty. Keep water at a cool temperature in an easy-to-reach place. Drink at least once every 15 minutes, and avoid soda and energy drinks.
Eat a healthy meal during the hottest time of day. Skip high-fat, greasy fast food in favor of a lighter meal, like half of a sandwich, a bag of chips, unsweetened ice tea, and an apple.
Avoid working in direct sunlight. If this isn’t possible, schedule frequent breaks in a shaded area to cool down and wear evaporative cooling clothing with UV and insect protection.
Cover your head. Hard hats should be worn at all times on a job site. If you can find one with a wide brim, you’ll protect yourself from falling objects and the harsh sun. Add a nape protector or wrap-around sun visor to maximize protection.
Be alert for signs of heat illness. The order of seriousness is: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. At the first indication something is wrong, stop what you’re doing. Seek water and shade and notify you supervisor immediately.
Heat Illnesses & Deaths are Preventable
Construction jobs entail some of the most physically challenging work in America, and they can be very dangerous for employees and contractors if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Falling, electrocution, and accidents involving machinery are some of the most common incidents on a construction site. But during summer, the extreme heat adds an entirely new set of safety hazards workers need to prepare for.
Alas, no matter how careful you are to stay hydrated, eat right, and cover up in direct sunlight, heat illness can still happen. If you experience a combination of the following symptoms on the job, notify your supervisor or call 911 immediately:
- Sweaty skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fast heart beat
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- High temperature
If you think you will need medical attention and/or time off work to recover from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, fill out a workers’ compensation claim form as soon as possible. From there, it’s your employer’s job to notify the insurance company and recommend the company’s doctor for an evaluation.
Are you suffering from heat illness due to a hot and humid work environment?
The Law Office of Gerald D. Brody & Associates is here to help. Our workers’ compensation lawyers are experienced and skilled in helping construction workers collect the benefits they need, including those ill due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Call us today to schedule your free, initial consultation.