A Guide to Working Safely in the Heat
20th August, 2018
When you are in the construction industry, each day can bring its own challenges. There are days when you are left to face the hot sun in your heaviest gear doing the most strenuous work.
Working in the hot sun can pose a huge health risk. However, you can shield your health from the ill-effects of heat with the right information.
Know the Heat Index
Heat index measurement provides accurate information about how hot it is going to be outside. This is because the heat index is calculated after a study of multiple factors including temperature, heat intensity, wind speed and humidity.
The higher the heat index, the hotter it is going to be outside. Treat the heat index seriously and take precautions to safeguard your crew effectively from the sun.
Take Precautions to Reduce the Impact
- Identify cooler spots outdoors and shift work to these spots.
- Consider starting work earlier rather than late in mornings when the sun is up and hot. Schedule night and evening shifts whenever possible.
- Check the heat index regularly and push outdoor work to a day with a lower heat index.
- On days where the heat index is 115ºF or above, avoid assigning construction work that involves heavy physical exertion or the use of heavy and non-breathable workwear.
- Keep your crew informed of a high heat index. Provide cool drinking water. Place a schedule card to ensure your crew consumes water regularly. Make cold towels and fans accessible.
- Train the crew to identify the symptoms of heat-induced illness. Ensure immediate access to medical facilities in case of a medical situation.
- Treat early signs of heat-induced illness such as a headache and weakness immediately to prevent escalation of illness. Give the patient cool water immediately and move him/her to a shaded area.
- Request medical help in case of serious symptoms such as loss of consciousness or confused behaviour.
- Treat absence of sweating during work as a symptom of severe dehydration and attend to it immediately.
Avoid Sugary and Caffeinated Drinks
Drinking pure drinking water is the best way to beat the heat. Drinks with a little flavour are good if you want to make a drink more appealing to workers. Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks as they can worsen dehydration.
Discourage alcohol consumption 24 to 36 hours before a shift. Alcohol can worsen dehydration. Encourage frequent water consumption – as much as 4 cups every hour – on days when the heat index is high. Ensure that the crew doing strenuous work in direct sun consumes more water.
Give New Workers Time to Adapt to the Heat
Workers who are new to working outdoors are at greater risk of heat-induced illness, according to an OSHA study. Increase work in the sun for new workers gradually so that they get time to adapt themselves to the heat. It usually takes several weeks for workers new to heat to work at par with their more experienced colleagues.
Use Protective Clothing & Accessories
Wear light breathable cotton clothes or lightweight moisture-repelling polyester fabrics. Try modern cooling vests, which come with a gel or liquid that needs to be refrigerated before inserting into the vest. Use a hat or cooling bandana and sunscreen.
About MTS Plant
With over 25 years’ experience in the industry, MTS Plant offers new and used plant machinery sales and hire services in the UK.
As official Yanmar dealers, we offer a full range of construction equipment, including excavators, wheel loaders, tracked dumpers and rubber ducks. Well-maintained second-hand equipment is also available from our dealership in the UK.
As official Yanmar dealers, we offer complete after-market support.
If you are looking for replacement plant machinery parts we have got you covered. We offer genuine Yanmar parts for sale via our dedicated aftermarket team. As authorised Yanmar dealers, you can trust us to deliver factory approved and genuine Yanmar parts.
Looking to book plant hire for your next project or thinking about purchasing a new machine for your fleet? Reach out to MTS Plant today, we are here to help.