The construction industry is especially risky for workers, who often perform strenuous work in potentially hazardous conditions. Aside from the risks of injury from construction accidents, there are often less obvious risks, like illness from heat stress. In the summer, it is important to understand and apply OSHA’s heat stress prevention guidelines to ensure a safe and healthy construction worksite.
How Heat Affects Construction Workers
Construction workers in Pflugerville are at a high risk of illness or injury due to heat. Construction workers are exposed to the heat of the Texas sun working outdoors and exposed to the heat of their own bodies as they engage in strenuous physical labor.
Additionally, protective gear and clothing can prevent natural evaporative cooling, and it may not be easy for workers to stay hydrated throughout the day. All these factors combine to increase the risk of heat-related illnesses and injuries. Some of the effects of heat on construction workers include:
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty concentrating
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle cramps
Over time, the worker may begin to feel sick or even collapse from heat stress or heat exhaustion. In fact, between 1992 and 2016, 285 construction workers died from heat-related causes. It is important to take heat-related symptoms and illnesses seriously. Heat stroke is a medical emergency, so seek medical attention after an incident in order to prevent disability or death.
OSHA’s Heat Stress Prevention Guidelines
Because of the high risk of heat-related illnesses and injuries, OSHA has a detailed list of heat stress prevention guidelines. These guidelines apply to both employers and employees, creating a shared responsibility to keep the workplace safe and healthy. OSHA requires construction companies to:
- Take extra precautions to protect new workers
- Train workers and supervisors to recognize heat hazards
- Monitor heat stress conditions for each worker throughout each workday
- Implement engineering and administrative controls to reduce the risks of heat stress
- Provide each worker with sufficient rest, shade, and fluids
While OSHA requires employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace, construction workers should practice high awareness of heat risks and advocate for themselves and each other in order to prevent heat stress. Workers can protect themselves by:
- Monitoring the weather and current conditions. OSHA has a heat safety app with real-time heat index monitoring to help you protect yourself throughout the day
- Monitoring yourself and others. Be attentive to signs of excessive sweating, elevated heart rate or respiration, or fatigue and confusion in yourself and in your coworkers. Check in with each other throughout the day.
- Staying hydrated throughout the day. In hot weather, drink water or sports drinks with electrolytes to remain hydrated. Avoid caffeinated beverages like colas or energy drinks because caffeine can actually reduce hydration.
- Reacting immediately to signs of overheating. If you or a coworker show signs of heat stress, take it seriously and react immediately. Move the worker to a cool area in the shade. Loosen their clothing, and provide cool beverages. If possible, allow them to take a cool shower or wipe down with cold water. If there is no improvement within 15 minutes, call 911.
Heat-related injuries are as serious as any other work-related injury, and affected workers should consult with a Pflugerville construction accident lawyer. The cost of a construction accident law firm in Texas is more affordable than you might think, and it’s important to know your rights.
Heat Stress and Fatalities in the Construction Industry
Unfortunately, heat-related illnesses and injuries in the construction industry are all too common, especially in the hot summer weather of central Texas. Excessive heat also raises the chances of other types of injuries and accidents on construction sites, with a 10% greater risk of traumatic injuries per 2°F temperature increase. If you have suffered illness, injury, or even wrongful death on a construction site due to excessive heat, contact a Pflugerville construction accident attorney.
How Can Pastrana and García Injury Law Help?
Pastrana and García Injury Law has more than 30 years of experience helping people recover damages for workplace injuries. We have secured millions of dollars in compensation for clients in Pflugerville, Round Rock, Georgetown, and other communities in Texas. Contact us today for a free consultation.