Excessive heat and sun exposure can pose significant dangers for construction workers. These hazards include sunburn, dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. There are several preventative measures you can implement to try and reduce the risk to workers when working in heat.
Take a look at these 5 safety tips below for both indoor and outdoor workers to help prevent heat related illnesses for those working in construction.
Drink water frequently
Ensure workers are drinking enough. Drinking electrolyte beverages can also help to keep hydration levels high. You should also think about where the nearest water sources are if working out in the field. To help identify when a worker is becoming dehydrated you can use urine test strips to provide a quick indication of when someone may be entering dangerous levels of dehydration.
Wear loose fitting, light and breathable clothing
Some work activities have compulsory PPE requirements which may involve clothing that prevents the evaporation of sweat or air movement. This must be considered when assessing the risks of heat for workers. If possible, seek to offer loose fitting, light and breathable clothing alternatives where possible.
Re-arrange work schedules
Look at the possibility to move more labour intense workloads to cooler times of the day. The harder the body is working the more heat it needs to lose to maintain a safe body temperature. Consider earlier start times, or later working hours to use the time when the sun is not at its hottest.
Take more breaks
Working in heat for long periods of time is very dangerous. Allow workers to take longer rest periods to avoid working under fatigue, which is another condition that increases in heat. Arrange for breaks to be moved to the shade or an air-conditioned area or building where possible.
Frequently monitor physiological behaviors
Environmental conditions and the health and safety of workers must be monitored when work involves prolonged or repeated exposure to heat or cold.
Most people feel comfortable when the air temperature is between 20°C and 27°C and when the relative humidity ranges from 35 to 60 per cent.
People may feel uncomfortable when air temperature or humidity is higher than this. However, it is important to note that such situations do not cause harm as long as the body can adjust and cope with the additional heat.
Real-time monitoring of workers physiological indicators including core body temperature, activity level, and hydration status, can help to prevent heat related illness, which can be fatal.
To view our full heat stress product range download our Guide to Heat Stress Monitoring here.
*Referenced from Safe Work Australia