As August approaches, most employees fantasize about autumn leaves and cooler weather on the horizon. However, construction workers are still in the midst of the hot summer days across Pennsylvania.
They have to work every day, despite dry heat or extreme humidity. They need to make sure the projects are on time and live up to a specific quality standard. But how can we protect workers in the hottest month of the year?
It’s critical for employers to know the risk of extreme heat on staff and techniques to prevent any heat-related injuries, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Luckily, there are practices that every employer should implement on construction sites, including:
- Water breaks
- Shaded shelter
- Emergency plan to react to heat-related illnesses
- Training to spot signs of overheating
- Rotating job functions to prevent overexertion
- Reduce physical tasks in extreme heat or summer months
It’s crucial to take steps to reduce the effect of heat on employees instead of treating injuries after the incident. However, even perfect prevention may result in some employees with heat exhaustion or other injuries.
There are times when employees need immediate treatment to reduce their body temperature or the effects of the heat. The first step in treatment is identifying the issue. When it comes to heat, three main ailments result in severe injuries: heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.
All three aliments cause weakness, dizziness, headaches, nausea and sweating. For heat stroke, the employee may also experience more extreme confusion and possibly seizures. Heat cramps mean there is severe pain in the abdomen or arms.
Heat stroke is the most severe aliment and needs immediate medical attention. If you suspect you or another co-worker has heat stroke, call 911 and place them in a cool area until healthcare professionals arrive. For cramps or heat exhaustion, bring the worker to a shady, cool area to sit and rest. Give them plenty of water and make sure to use ice packs on the painful areas. It’s a similar treatment for heat exhaustion.
It’s possible for heat-related ailments to lead to other work injuries such as falls, slips and machinery accidents, so consider a workers’ compensation claim to cover lost wages and medical bills.