According to a report conducted by the Atlanta headquartered Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extreme heat is the leading cause of weather related deaths in the United States. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency defines extreme heat as “periods of summertime weather that are substantially hotter and/or more humid than typical for a given location at that time of year.” These events can also cause other health problems such as cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, which can become potentially fatal. Fortunately for us, heat-related illnesses are preventable.
As an active member of the AGC, RKR is participating this week in the “Stand Down on Heat Illness” training event. During the week of June 27, 2016, all our jobsite employees will stop work and participate in a toolbox safety meeting on the subject of heat illness where we will provide effective communication of safety policies, goals and expectations to all levels of the construction team and supporting employees. At RKR, we are committed to safe work environments on every jobsite. We believe that this is a tremendous opportunity to keep our teams healthy and projects moving forward.
Benjamin Franklin once wisely said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If the following preventative measures are taken on the jobsite, the likelihood of having an incident because of heat illness will drastically decrease. First, workers should become acclimatized to heat. Workers need to gradually work for longer periods in a hot environment. This simple step will allow for physiological adaptions, such as increased sweating efficiency and stabilization of the circulation.
Another crucial step is staying hydrated. Workers on the site should drink two to four cups of water every hour while working; liquids containing large amounts of sugar should be avoided – and don’t wait until you are thirsty! Dressing appropriately for the heat can go a long way. Consider wearing moisture wicking lightweight clothes and accessorizing your hard hat with a hardhat brim will help keep you cool and protect you from sunburn. Lastly, breaks are highly encouraged in the heat. We know that we all take pride in our work and that we have tasks that we try to complete before the day’s end, but breaks in the share or air-conditioned facilities make a big difference in the quality of work that we can accomplish. We urge all workers that if you feel faint or weak to stop immediately and get to a cool environment, your health and well-being is our top priority.
So enjoy these long summer days but be smart in the heat and out in the sun.