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It’s Getting Hot in Here: Heat and Construction Safety

June 3 2024
Safety, Safety and Health

With June underway and summer rolling in, our industry once again enters the most dangerous season of the year for construction and maintenance workers. We as construction professionals have and will continue to put job safety at the forefront of everything we do, but dealing with heat is trickier than equipping the jobsite with quality PPE or upgrading to the safest and most effective equipment.

The basics are easy – providing water, shade, places to cool off, and time for breaks are key to helping mitigate the dangers of working in high-heat environments. But what else can be done?

It may be less of a question about what can be done, and more of a question of how to properly assess a situation that could be dangerous. Is temperature still the standard by which we should judge the risk of heat, or are there better indicators? Is heat index the more accurate measure? And how does humidity factor into the equation?

Luckily, we have tools more effective than mercury thermometers to judge the safety of a particular environment. One such tool, an app developed in conjunction with OSHA and NIOSH, serves as an on-the-go resource for managing and mitigating heat danger. The app includes a real-time heat index and associated risk levels specific to your location and the current forecast, as well as signs, symptoms, and first aid for heat related illnesses.

As is so often the case in all aspects of construction, it is less about having one tool for the whole job and more about utilizing multiple tools to achieve the best possible outcome – and this rings especially true when it comes to safety. Water and breaks in the shade are necessary, but when combined with top of the line technology and weather monitoring, they become even more effective.

We as an industry have some hot months ahead of us. With knowledge and action, we can mitigate as many risks as possible to ensure our industry beats the heat this summer.

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