It’s that time of year again when the temperature starts rising and those in the work zones along with other occupations in outdoor weather, need to take precautions.
Did you know that Summer of 2018 ranked 4th hottest on record for U.S.? Along with that statistic, we have more than 15 million people in the United States that have jobs that require them to be outdoors at any given time. Within that 15 million, about 7 million are working in construction.
Businesses with outdoor work are also directly impacted from a productivity standpoint. Economist R. Jisung Park reported that, “worker productivity declines by 2 percent for every degree Celsius above room temperature.” By the year 2100, the United States will lose 1.8 billion labor hours across the workforce, which amounts to an estimated $170 billion in lost wages.
During summer months, 13 of the largest US cities routinely get over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Phoenix, Arizona was listed as the top U.S. city to have 107 days a year over 99 degrees Fahrenheit. With cities in Nevada, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, and Missouri following close behind.
So how can we combat this issue at hand and prepare for the heat that is coming? First, understand the effect on the body that heat has:
Here are the top 5 ways to prepare for the heat:
1. Get the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Many PPE companies are shifting to supplying gear that is light, breathable, and provides better circulation and flexibility. Your safety as well as your crew's safety against heat is priceless! Gear up on cooling vests, summer impact work gloves, summer sun shade hard hats, cooling bandanas, and more.
2. Ditch the Morning Coffee
Yes! Especially in hot temperatures, caffeine can actually dehydrate you. Stick to water and your body will be thankful. “Caffeine is a diuretic when consumed in large doses (more than 500mg). Diuretics make your body produce more urine, so not only do they have you running to the toilet more often, they also cause you to lose sodium and water. When you lose too much sodium and water you become dehydrated, and this can have an effect on a range of bodily functions – from temperature control to absorption of food.
3. Reschedule Work to Cooler Time Frames
The heat does not need to slow your work down, you just need to schedule accordingly! Early mornings and evenings are best with mid-day being the worst.
4. Educate Workers on Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stress
Do you know the signs? If you are not sure, your crew may not be either. Take the time to review at the next team meeting. It could save a life! For signs and symptoms click here.
5. Have a Heat Stress Plan in Place for Prevention
Should one of your crew members show signs of heat stress, be prepared in what to do. Acting fast is crucial but provide training to your crew to ensure they know to handle the situation best.
Check out OSHA’s page on heat to learn more about their OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool Smartphone App and other resources! Click Here.