35391291_MThe summer heat can be unbearable, and this is especially true for workers who spend a lot of time outside, such as construction workers. Construction workers not only have to deal with working in the heat but also often wear heavy tool belts and protective garments. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports construction workers are at a greater than average risk for heat-related injuries, illness and fatalities.

Three common heat-related illnesses that construction workers might face include:

  • Heat exhaustion: This occurs when the body loses a significant amount of water and salt through excessive sweating. Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting and cool, clammy skin.
  • Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition. It happens when the body’s temperature regulation system fails, and body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Symptoms include high body temperature (above 103°F or 39.4°C), hot and dry skin, rapid pulse, headache, confusion, unconsciousness and seizures.
  • Heat cramps: Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions that usually occur in the legs, arms or abdomen. They are often caused by a lack of electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, due to excessive sweating.

A few signs of heat exhaustion that construction workers should be on the lookout for include flushed/red skin, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea, pale skin, vomiting, diarrhea, fast heartbeat or excessive sweating.

Prevention is key in avoiding heat-related illness. There are several measures that construction project managers can take to prevent heat-related injuries on their job sites:

Training: All supervisors and workers should receive training to be able to recognize the symptoms and take measures to treat victims of a heat-related illness.

Monitoring weather: Construction project managers should keep advised of daily weather reports and reschedule jobs that are scheduled to be performed in extreme heat conditions. Construction workers can be scheduled for early morning shifts or later shifts during a cooler time of day.

Water breaks: All workers should be provided with the proper amount of fluids to keep them hydrated as well as breaks where they can rest away from the heat.

Prompt medical attention: Any worker who shows signs of heat exhaustion should receive immediate medical attention to prevent injury, illness or death. A heat stroke can be fatal unless prompt care is received.

Construction managers have a lot on their plates including keeping their workers safe. C&S Specialty Underwriters has liability protection packages available that will give your construction contractor clients one less thing to worry about. Contact us for information about our liability coverage programs.