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Handling the Heat: Construction Safety in Hot Weather

Construction crews are a dedicated bunch. They’re people who enjoy a hard day’s work, relish a job well done and don’t mind digging in to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Still, when Mother Nature throws in seasonal obstacles — namely, her blistering summer heat — it can place companies’ prized personnel in harm’s way. At T&T, we believe all crews should take the time to brief their team members on proper hot weather construction safety practices. Here are a few tips to help crews carry out their work safely, all season long.

Allow time to adjust.
Jumping straight into hot working conditions can be a shock to the system, and can have devastating effects on an individual’s overall health. Give your crew a chance to get used to the outdoor working environment, building their stamina by incrementally increasing the amount of time they’re exposed to the heat.

Provide periodic breaks.
Hot conditions pose potential dangers long after your crew has adjusted to the weather. Allow team members to rest in shaded areas whenever necessary, in order to avoid falling victim to heat-related illness.

Don’t skip the water.
Proper hydration plays a key role in keeping people’s bodies functioning properly. Encourage crew members to pause for water breaks every 15 minutes or so, even if they don’t feel thirsty.

Maintain proper sun protection.
Uncomfortable burns aren’t the only concern when your team members are exposed to the elements. Skin cancer poses a very real threat, as well. Equip your crew with protection such as broad-spectrum sunscreens, wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and sunglasses with UV protection.

Of course, a team can follow every rule in the book and still find themselves dealing with heat-related emergencies. We encourage everyone — managers and crew members alike — to familiarize themselves with OSHA’s guidelines regarding heat-related illness. Knowing the warning signs to watch for, as well as proper treatment steps, helps ensure a safer construction environment for all involved.


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