The summer is upon us, and as we all know working long hours at the construction site is going to be an enduring test. And it isn’t just the construction site workers that have to fight the heatwave, in fact, all residential contractors, commercial builders, workers in public works, electricians, pest control workers and even spray foam insulation technicians have to bear the brunt of the changing weather.
Unfortunately, heat-related illnesses are fairly commonplace, and more deaths have been reported as a result of heat stress than any other weather-related issues. To ensure that this isn’t the case with your workers, we have consolidated a list of tips, tricks, and products that can help keep them safe and protected from the upcoming heatwave!
Knowledge is Power
Getting used to the heat is no mean feat, and it often takes workers a few days to get accustomed to the changing weather. To help them deal with the same, it is important to equip them with some key knowledge bites. They should know how to identify signs of heat stress and dehydration.
For instance – increased thirst, dry mouth, and decreased urine output indicate dehydration. While these are common signs, some unusual signs are swollen tongue, and inability to sweat. Make sure the workers are educated about the same, and report of any of these symptoms immediately. In such an instance, they must take a break and become rehydrated well before they get back on their feet, and even then should avoid exposure to excessive heat.
You must also inform the workers of the OSHA Heat Safety Tool mobile app. This app facilitates the calculation of the heat index and displays the risk level to workers. The app also offers reminders with protective measures that the workers can take based on the risk level. Being aware of the heat index, and following the recommended measures can help avert the risk of heat-related illnesses.
Hydration is the Key
Yes. We know it is the most obvious one, yet we cannot stress enough on its importance. While it is believed that having nearly a gallon of water a day can help avoid heat-related illnesses, when it comes to staying hydrated for construction workers the trick is to consume cool water or other fluids every 15-20 minutes. When we speak of fluids other than water, sports drinks, coconut water, as well as fresh fruit juices make it to the top of the list.
Yet another commendable alternative to staying well-hydrated during extreme heat is Sqwincher. Offered in the form of QwikServ powder packs, Sqwincher is perfect for restoring important minerals and fluids that may be lost due to heat stress. Featuring added potassium, low in sodium, and gluten-free, these cool packs are ideal for providing Professional Grade Hydration® in the toughest of situations.
All said and done, sodas and alcohol are two beverage types that should be discouraged during this weather as they act as diuretics, and can cause further dehydration.
Appropriate dressing such as light-colored, loose-fitting, and lightweight clothes can help keep the body temperature of construction workers at an ideal level. To this end, cotton and linen can prove to be great fabrics. In fact, many workers also prefer moisture-wicking clothing that helps absorb sweat and keep the body cool. This can prove to be especially helpful in areas where the weather conditions are a mix of hot and humid.
Choose the Gear Wisely
Protective Industrial Products (PIP) has a wide range of Evaporative Cooler Gear which enables the absorption of water by the cooling polymers. Such Evaporative Cooling Gear can be activated using room temperature water.
When the wearer starts working in a heated environment, the absorbed moisture evaporates, creating a cooling affect for the wearer. When activating, you may use room temperature water.
Some of the products offered by PIP include Evaporative Tank Tops, Cooling Sleeves, Clima-Band™ (Adjustable 2-Layer Neck Gaiter Performance Neck Gaiter), Evaporative Cooling Tie Hat, Hard Hat Cooling Pad, Hard Hat Pad with Neck Shade, Ranger Hat, Cooling Towel and Hi-Vis Cooling Neck Shade, amongst others.
Yet another brand that offers high-quality gear for occupational safety that facilitates heat stress prevention is Pyramex. You can conveniently choose from a variety of hat shades with the company’s HPSHADE series, which has an oversized brim with a neck shade, the CNB series, which provides additional cooling, or the CNS1 series which features a padded neck shade.
The brand also offers cooling and moisture-wicking towels, cooling towel wraps, breathable skull cap, and cooling hard hat pads all of which help in keeping heat stress to a minimum.
Then again, you can opt for cooling products from Radians Safety for added cooling relief. These include Radians SE Treated Hi-Vis Neck Shade, Headband, Hard Hat Cooling Sweatband, Head Shade, Cooling Towel, Cooling Wrap, Cooling Vests, Radians Collapsible Hard Hat Shade with Mesh Side Panels, Radians Short-Sleeve Cooling T-Shirt and Long Sleeve Cooling T-Shirt to help protect from direct sunlight.
It is a well-known fact that high temperatures are recorded post 2 pm. Hence, getting started earlier in the day can prove to be a good way to ensure that workers on the construction sites stay away from the heatwave. Yet another way can be to time the shifts such that the peak hours that is 2 pm to 6 pm can be avoided.
Use Air Conditioned Areas
Offering frequent breaks, preferably in a cool area with shade or one with air conditioning can help avoid heat-related illnesses. Workers should have free access to such areas where they can go for 10-15 minutes to cool off their skin temperature and take time to rehydrate themselves.
Know All About Heat-Related Illnesses
Some of the most commonly occurring illnesses cause by heat and humidity include heat stress, heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke – all of which, unfortunately, largely affect construction site workers.
Hence, it is extremely important to have trained safety assistants on the sites who can help the workers deal with hot and humid climates while also providing them with necessary first aid, if and when required. While it may sound like a stretch but heat exhaustion is a serious issue and all possible measures must be taken to avoid the same at all costs.
We hope that you now have a fair idea of how to safeguard your workers from heat illness. We are sure, once you speak with them they will also offer you some tips and industry insights that they might have learned over the course of their working experience.