Summer is just around the corner which means we are in for some extreme heat. Granted it might only be for a week or two being that its Alberta. None the less, as construction professionals we need to be prepared in order to prevent heat stress.
Safety first! Right?
So, what constitutes extreme heat? Well, any temperature that invokes the desire to sit poolside in a lounger, with a cool beverage in hand, while slathering yourself in sunscreen (or oil, depending on your preference) and working on your tan. A place where you can enjoy the sun and stay cool – not a construction site.
However, as you know the ‘building’ must go on.
Did you know, your body works optimally when its core temperature is at 37°C?
There are many factors that affect your core temperature. Hence, its need to regulate through sweating and shivering, usually at the most inappropriate times. Factors such as air temperature, radiant heat, relative humidity, moving air, physical exertion, and clothing. Some of these you can control and others you can not.
It’s even more complex this time of year as your body has not acclimatized to the weather yet, which can make you more vulnerable or suspectable to heat stress.
It is important to be aware of the early signs of heat stress so they can be treated right away. Symptoms included: headaches, confusion, dizziness, heavy sweating, muscle cramps and change in breathing or pulse. Funny enough, those are the same symptoms you experience on a first date.
It is both you and your employer’s responsibility to create a safe work environment. There are many ways you can adapt your work to still be productive and remain safe. Below are some tips for working in extreme heat.
What YOU can do:
1. Dress in suitable work clothing for the heat, this doesn’t mean tank tops and cut off shorts. Save those for the weekend.
2. Using protective equipment designed to reduce stress.
3. Drink plenty of water, that means 1 cup per 15 mins approximately.
4. Use sunscreen, a damp bandana or hardhat liner to keep your head cool. We vote for the damp bandana, at least you look cool.
What an EMPLOYER can do:
1. Assess the work environment and identify where heat might be an issue.
2. Create a work/rest schedule to reduce sun exposer.
3. Minimize physical activity during peak times of the day.
4. Provide adequate time to acclimatize to the weather.
5. Create a cooling station for team members to rest.
Heat stress is not a joke and needs to be taken seriously. In extreme cases, it can lead to hospitalization. That is not a win for anyone: you, your work, or your family. So, make sure you take care of yourself. If you feel your work is unsafe due to hot temperatures, then let them know or call OHS contact center.
It’s going to get hot, stay safe, work safe and enjoy the summer.