Heat Illness in Construction Can Be Prevented with Water, Rest, Shade

June 16, 2015

The summertime is when construction companies across the country get the majority of their work done.

But it’s also one of the most dangerous times of the year to be outside. The sun beating down from above, the humidity and/or dry air surrounding work crews, and the reflection off a hot blacktop all combine to conspire against heavy civil workers out in the field, causing heat illness even in those who are used to hot conditions.

Heat illness occurs when a person’s body temperature rises to levels beyond what the body can cool down by sweating. Not drinking water frequently and not resting in shade or air conditioning can have dangerous consequences -- from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention and can result in death.

Between 2008 and 2014, OSHA responded to 109 heat-related fatalities involving outdoor workers in the United States.

That’s why OSHA introduced the nationwide Heat Illness Prevention Campaign in 2011. This effort aims to raise awareness and teach workers and employees about the dangers of working in hot weather, as well as to provide valuable resources to address heat concerns.

OSHA provides educational resources, a heat index, training, an online toolkit, and a fatality map to educate workers and to help employers develop a heat illness prevention plan.

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