Construction work is a high-risk industry. Construction workers are three times more likely to die on the job than the average worker and there is an increased risk for construction injuries. Heat-related illness is common in the industry and it’s important for companies to take steps to protect workers.
So what can workers and construction companies do to make construction sites safer? Here are a few suggestions to beat the heat and stay safe on the job.
Tips to help prevent heat-related illness on construction sites
Stay hydrated. When working outside in hot weather – even when it's not terribly hot out – your body will still produce sweat to keep itself cool. This can lead to dehydration, which can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded and cause muscle cramps and headaches. Staying hydrated is an important part of preventing heat-related injuries onsite. Construction workers should drink plenty of water (or sports drinks) throughout the day and take breaks for rehydration.
Take breaks. Heat is often unavoidable when working in the outdoors. Even on an overcast day, it's important for a worker to pay close attention and take breaks if they’re feeling hot or fatigued. Without adequate hydration, there's an increased risk of serious injuries. Pay attention to the warning signs of heat-related illnesses, including symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache and heavy sweating.
Stay in the shade. A lack of shade or an excessive amount of sun exposure can also make a project site even hotter. Workers should be mindful to stay in the shadows whenever possible – even if just for a moment before heading back into the sun again – so they don’t overheat too quickly. If there are no shaded areas, workers should consider bringing their own form of shade with them to work.
Wear appropriate clothing. Construction workers must be mindful of the amount and type of clothing they're wearing while onsite. Too many layers can make you sweat more in hot weather because it's harder for your body to regulate its temperature if covered up completely. A worker may find that taking off a shirt or jacket will help them stay cooler.
Be mindful of work conditions. The quality of the work site can contribute to heat-related problems. For example, workers may have trouble staying cool and hydrated on poorly insulated surfaces like asphalt. It’s important for construction supervisors to keep an eye out for these problems so they can be addressed as soon as possible.
Use cooling devices. When the risk of heat-related injury is high, workers should consider using a personal cooling device to stay cool and hydrated onsite. These devices are battery or solar powered with some models even running off water bottles. They work by blowing air cooled by a water-soaked sponge. As the importance of hydration has become more recognized, commercial grade coolers have grown in popularity on construction sites to keep workers well hydrated. These are portable and can be filled with ice or gel packs for days at a time.
How can a lawyer help?
If you have been injured on the job, it's important to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately. The experienced attorneys at Hochman & Plunkett Co., L.P.A fight for the rights of injured construction workers in Dayton, Cincinnati, Springfield and Troy. We thoroughly understand the state and federal laws designed to protect the safety and well-being of construction workers. As your attorney, we can investigate whether any of those laws were violated and if you’re entitled to additional financial compensation on top of workers’ compensation benefits.
Learn more about how we can help if you’ve been hurt on the job. Contact us for a free initial consultation. We have four offices conveniently located throughout Ohio and handle injury claims statewide.