The summers in the U.S. provide warmer weather and a chance to enjoy the outdoors. Many people in the construction industry use the summers to increase work output, as the days are longer and the weather more bearable than the winter. However, with sunny weather comes the risk of heat stress and exposure. Whether you are busy on a job site or simply enjoying the outdoors with friends and family, it is important to understand heat-related illness; knowing the signs and proper prevention ensures an enjoyable experience and can save lives.
The human body is equipped to handle heat, typically by sweating. It is important though, that fluids are adequately replaced to account for what is evaporating off our skin. When our environment becomes too hot and sweating is not enough, our core temperature begins to rise as our body tries to store the heat. Some of the first signs that someone is experiencing heat stress is their lack of concentration on the task at hand, they become irritable or sick, or they lose the desire to drink any fluid. This can also lead to fainting, heat rash, heat cramps, and heat stroke.
Take notice of the work environment. Is there direct sun exposure? Are you working near hot objects (e.g. heavy machinery, boilers, etc.)? Is there limited air movement or ventilation? Also account for any job-specific requirements. Is extra protective clothing needed for the task? Are you performing more strenuous physical work than usual?
In many cases, it is difficult to control the work environment on a job site. At Envirocon, our employees are encouraged to practice effective work/rest cycles. Shaded areas and drinking water are also provided. Most importantly though, we look out for our teammates and actively care about their health and well-being. On our sites, every person is responsible for health and safety, and we provide the tools to make sure work is accomplished in a safe manner, including Stop Work Authority. If you see something, say something. Remember, work safe means home safe.
So as temperatures continue to be high, make sure the proper steps are being taken to prevent heat exposure. Stay cool, and beat the heat this summer.