As a construction worker, you know that you face various hazards throughout the day as you operate heavy machinery, power tools, and work in possibly dangerous situations. You may not, however, always consider another major hazard that you're dealing with—Mother Nature.
The temperatures in Texas can get pretty high, especially during the brutally warm summer months. You may be trying to take every safety precaution necessary to avoid injury, but if you are not also actively trying to avoid a heat-related injury, it could knock you down when you least expect it. You might think, "I've lived in Texas my whole life. I'm used to the heat. It's not a big deal." But, it really is a big deal. Individuals who think their bodies have adapted to extreme heat can be unpleasantly surprised when heat illness strikes.
Heat stroke is the most serious type of heat-related illness and it is a true medical emergency that can ultimately cause death. Heat stroke occurs when the body stops sweating and it becomes unable to regulate its core temperature. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says symptoms may include confusion, fainting, seizures, excessive sweating, hot red dry skin, and a very high body temperature.
Other types of heat-related illness include heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash. All are extremely unpleasant and may impact your ability to work for a certain amount of time. To avoid these illnesses, construction workers should:
- Always have water close to the work area and drink small amounts frequently.
- Distribute the workload evenly over the day and incorporate work and rest cycles.
- Rotate job functions among workers.
- Try to take it easy and avoid overexertion during especially hot days.
- Know the signs of heat-related illnesses so that if someone on the construction site seems to be ill, they know what to do.
By instituting practices to stay cool on hot days, construction workers stand a much better chance at avoiding heat-related illnesses and staying healthy on the job.
Did you find this article to be helpful? Please share it with anyone you know who works outside—you may just save them from a heat-related illness.