Construction workers and summer heat: 4 ways to stay safe

With temperatures that average over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, few places in the United States get as hot as Alabama in the summertime. When it gets this hot, it is no wonder that the already dangerous construction industry can see a spike in illness and injury during the summer months.

How serious of an issue are summer heat and construction accidents?

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost 75% of heat-related construction fatalities occur in June, July, and August.

What are some of the common causes of construction accidents during the summer?

According to a recent study by Safeopedia, an organization focusing on health and safety issues, summertime construction accidents can spike due to the increased fatigue and dehydration that come with time in the hot sun. This can lead to impaired thinking, as anyone who has dealt with either of these issues can relate to confusion and occasional dizziness or light-headedness.

The spike is also connected to a jump in road construction projects. The more time workers spend on highways and freeways, the higher risk of a serious accident.

How can construction workers stay safe when working in the heat?

The CDC encourages construction industry leaders to include the following practices to help workers stay safe in the summer months:

  • Provide hydration. Make sure workers have access to water to stay hydrated while working.
  • Adjust the schedule. When possible, adjust the workday so difficult projects are completed during the cooler part of the day.
  • Add breaks. The agency states that an increase in breaks is not just important but often required to help reduce the impact of heat on workers during summer months.
  • Have a cool break spot. Provide workers access to an air-conditioned or shaded area to take breaks.

Educating workers on the signs of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses is also important. These steps can reduce the risk of illness and injury related to heat exposure in the construction industry.

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