OSHA and Keeping Your Cool in the Summer Sun: Work Crew Safety

Hot Sun on Construction Site

When the heat is on, sometimes you don't have any choice but to keep on working. How do you keep your crew moving in the summer sun without risking heat-related injuries such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke that can put their lives in danger? Here are some tips to help keep everyone moving safely:

Avoiding Heat-Related Illnesses

Construction Worker Working Outside
  • Heat or Prickly Rash: Appearing as small red bumps, this type of rash shows up when you can't keep your skin dry. Try clothing made of material that wicks moisture away from the skin, such as linen or cotton. Drying body powders can also help. Working in cooler, dryer conditions helps as well.
  • Heat Cramps: When your body is low on electrolytes, you may get cramps in your major muscle groups such as the abdomen, legs or arms. Rest in the shade, take liquids and wait several hours after the cramps stop before returning to strenuous work. This or the more serious conditions listed below require a minimum of a doctor's visit if they don't improve within an hour or two.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Even as it's hot outside, you notice you have cool, damp skin. That's because it's the first sign of shock. You may also sweat heavily, and experience headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or weakness. You might also be irritable or thirsty and have a fast heart rate. You need to immediately rest in a cool, shaded area and push cool liquids that restore electrolyte. You may also find some relief by cooling your body with cold compresses or cold packs. You'll need to rest several hours before returning to work and if you don't have any relief within the hour, go immediately to an urgent care or emergency room.
  • Heat Stroke: Heat stroke is deadly and disabling, so it must be treated as a life-threatening situation by calling 911 immediately. The symptoms are excessive sweating or red, dry skin, fainting, seizures, high fever or confusion. Immediately rest in a cool, shaded area, loosen or remove clothing to expose skin for cooling, place cold packs in the armpits, push liquids and wet and fan the exposed skin. It is vital that someone remain with you until help arrives in case of vomiting and loss of consciousness.

Work Site Heat Safety Tips

Road Construction
  • If bottles are hard to keep close, consider adding a hydration backback pack for hydration.
  • Upset stomach from electrolyte drinks? Mix them 1:1 with water.
  • Change the schedule to work earlier in the day or later in the evening to avoid the worst of the heat.
  • Can't change up the schedule? Try to switch to indoor or shaded tasks during the worst heat.
  • No shade or breeze? Add reflective tarps and fans where possible to provide artificial shade and air.
  • Check a greenhouse supply for misting heads and hoses, then create a cooling tent to provide a cooler break and recovery location.
  • The new evaporating towels do a better job than simply wetting a bandana. Users can often work in temperatures 10-15ºF higher than they could otherwise.
  • Don't use deionized water to rehydrate. It lacks the natural electrolytes that are sweated out on hot days.
  • Encourage salty snacks such as chips, cheese and jerky. These foods help promote drinking more fluids. They also help your body retain water.
  • Try providing fresh fruit and vegetables as a snack alternative. They have higher water content than other foods.

By keeping these simple tips in mind, you'll be able to keep your crew moving even in the hottest weather. At Wallboard Supply Company, our focus is to keep your business running at full power, whether it's by giving you the information you need to keep your crew going or supplying the products and services you need to get the job done right the first time. If you need help finding the right products or tools to get your job done effectively and efficiently, please feel free to contact us today for more information or with any questions.

OSHA Personal Protective Equipment Quick Card

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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.