In 2020, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a report on heat stress in the construction industry. Collecting information from hospital and OSHA reports, the CDC was able to come to conclusions that should be no surprise to anyone who has ever worked construction in the dog days of summer.
The CDC reported that around 12 people each year, over the past 24 years, lose their lives due to some form of heat related injuries (HRI). This number underestimates the severity of the situation due to the misclassification of injury reports. Heat related injuries are most abundant, as one would expect, between the months of June and August. The report states that heat can cause those who it affects to lose their focus and decision making capabilities. Normal mistakes, something as minor as falling off of a ladder or not checking your surroundings, are much more likely to occur, and traumatic injuries increase when experiencing extreme heat. From 2008-2010 the most common workplace injury for patients aged 19-45 were occupational HRI’s. Even the youngest, healthiest workers are susceptible to these HRI’s.
The CDC and OSHA have teamed together to provide tips on how to better manage the heat and humidity when out on the job. Regulations require that workers always have a sufficient amount of cold water handy at all times. Workers are also required to take mandatory rest breaks in order to limit work and pressure. Light colored, loosely fitting clothing are recommended as well.
HRI’s aren’t always obvious, if your employee begins to feel dizzy, slow, and tired have them step away for a break. When you and your employees show signs of heat exhaustion, make sure someone has the necessary knowledge and preparations to get them help.