Construction Worker Risks During the Summer Heat

Construction Worker Risks During the Summer HeatAs the summer heat rises, most of us tend to settle indoors to wait out the most sizzling part of the day and then re-emerge as the warm summer nights appear. However, for those that work outdoors, the choice to hide out inside during the hottest portions of the day isn’t really an option. Laborers like construction workers building homes or commercial buildings, road construction crews, landscapers, and much more bear the heat head-on throughout the summer.

While we know so many people are working out in the extreme temperatures, have any of us really considered the risks that are being taken to do so? If you are the one working outside or have a loved one constantly trying to tolerate the heat, it’s most likely at the forefront of your mind on a daily basis. So, what are the real risks we’re talking about? What can be done to protect us and those we love?

What Are the Actual Risks of Working in the Heat?

In the years between 2011-2019, it was reported by the Bureau of Labor that 344 worker-related deaths occurred due to environmental heat exposure. Some safety experts believe that number is low compared to what should have been reported, or else the count was misreported as another condition like a heart attack, etc. Nevertheless, this count is too high and unavoidable in most cases. Each year though, the death toll rises as average high temperatures continue to increase as well.

Why Are Construction Workers at Such Great Risk?

When you stop to think about the actual job that a construction worker performs, you realize how labor-intensive their job really is. The fact that construction workers are physically pushing their bodies so hard and then adding extreme heat to the situation puts them at a much higher risk for heat-related injuries and even death. Other workers that deal with hot equipment like road workers, welders, and more, also have higher health risks attached to their jobs.

While most workers performing their jobs primarily outdoors don’t necessarily die from it, many mistakes can happen, which jeopardize the safety of workers and make them less efficient, with all kinds of errors a possibility. Response time, muscle and mind fatigue, sweaty and slippery hands, and more are all dangers that must be dealt with as the risks for construction workers rise with the temperature.

What Kind of Preventative Measures Can You Take?

While we’re all looking to beat the heat this summer, construction workers and others who need to spend prolonged periods of time outdoors depend on it. In April 2022, OSHA launched a national program aimed at increasing the safety of workers across the country. Their message is easy to remember: Water. Rest. Shade.

Some of the tips that coincide with this message are some of the best ways to take care of yourself while still performing the work you need outdoors.

  • Drink, drink, drink! Try to hydrate every 15 minutes.
  • Rest often in a shady spot where you can cool down.
  • Educate yourself on heat exposure and when you should stop and take a break.
  • Take time to build up your tolerance to the heat.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

What Preventative Measures Can Employers Take?

It’s a tough reality that summertime is when construction work hits an all-time high. More jobs can be done when the weather is nice, and you’re not dealing with rain, snow, ice, or even high winds. Unfortunately, the busiest time of year is also the hottest, most humid, and most physically draining. While there’s not really a choice to stop working, especially during peak season, there are ways to protect your employees while still being productive.

Employers can take extra precautions to safeguard their workers and staff by:

  • Limiting the amount of time workers are in the heat.
  • Making sure cold drinking water is always readily available.
  • Offering employees incentives for working out and participating in health programs to promote overall better health.
  • Scheduling the hottest or most physically demanding jobs for cooler times of the day.
  • Reminding workers to take frequent breaks to cool down.
  • Providing shade, if possible, for your team to work in.
  • Sharing hot jobs with a larger crew to limit the amount of time each worker spends in the heat.
  • Training employees to quickly recognize and properly respond to heat exhaustion symptoms.
  • Taking the extra precaution of monitoring the health of employees when they are working in the heat for an extended period.

All these simple measures can make a big difference in protecting employers as a company as well as their team. Happy, healthy employees make for good, quality work done right.

Keeping Construction Workers Safe

Construction workers work in some of the harshest conditions, and because of this, they need to educate themselves on how to minimize the health risks that they are prone to. Depending on your employer to always keep you safe and provide you with needed protection is not a good idea. While companies should be watching out for their workers, it doesn’t always happen.

Employers need their construction workers to work hard each day, often not in ideal conditions. It’s important for employers to take the initiative and keep their employees safe by providing some of the things mentioned above as well as being vigilant in watching for workers that may display signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion and then having an immediate plan for obtaining medical assistance.

The team at Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David, Meunier & Warshauer, L.L.C. is your trusted law team that works to protect construction workers and other workers that perform their job duties in risky environmental conditions. If you are an employee who has been harmed due to negligent behavior on behalf of your employer, we want to help make it right so that you are taken care of and other employees in your same situation. Contact our team at (504) 522-2304 to find out more about how our exceptional attorneys can help.