Workplace hazards usually differ from season to season. For instance, heat-related illnesses are common for those exposed to the sun while working in the summer. Heat exposure, however, is not the only hazard that can cause a work illness or injury in the hot summer months.
While it’s a season of progress, it also poses specific hazards that workers in the construction industry need to be aware of. The combination of heat, intense physical exertion, and various environmental factors can create a challenging work environment. In this blog post, we will explore the top seven summer workplace hazards faced by construction workers and discuss preventive measures to ensure their safety.
1. Heat-Related Illness
Heat-related illness refers to when the body feels sick due to exposure to excess heat. This causes heat stroke, stress, or even death. Heat illness occurs when the body’s regulating processes lose their efficacy. Medical conditions, age, and medications can exacerbate someone’s chance of heat illness.
To ensure that your employees don’t suffer from heat-related illness, provide regular breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas, encourage workers to stay hydrated, and promote the use of personal protective equipment, such as lightweight breathing clothing and hats.
Hydration is perhaps the last thing on the minds of most workers when working to beat tight deadlines. Construction workers, for instance, can feel too busy to drink water during their shifts thus increasing their likelihood of dehydration. Furthermore, sweating after engaging in intense physical activity aggravates dehydration.
Train your workers to recognize the signs of dehydration and seek to encourage them to seek immediate medical attention if symptoms arise. Promote the consumption of water before, during, and after work shifts. And encourage the intake of electrolyte-rich beverages to replenish essential minerals.
3. Sun Exposure
Too much sun exposure is often detrimental to skin health. Construction workers usually endure long hours working under the summer sun. The excessive exposure to UV light from the sun may lead to skin complications such as photoaging, melanoma, and actinic keratosis.
Encourage the use of sunscreen with a high SPF rating and encourage reapplication throughout the day. Provide long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses to protect exposed skin. If possible, schedule work activities to minimize direct sun exposure during peak hours (10 am to 4 pm).
4. Hot Equipment
Workers aren’t the only ones at risk for dangerous levels of sun exposure. Machinery, tools, equipment, and all outdoor surfaces encountered and used by workers are too. Tools and machines left outside on hot summer days will heat up if not placed in a shady area or covered. Workers that touch hot equipment can suffer serious burns.
Putting equipment in the shade or under tarps when not in use can be a highly effective strategy for ensuring that workers don’t come into contact with it.
5. Slips and Trips
Slip and trip accidents are particularly common when coupled with the risk of heat illness and dehydration. Dehydration can make you weary and tired, and as a result, make workers less aware of their surroundings, increasing the risk of a trip or fall.
To avoid slips and trips at the workplace, implement fall protection systems, such as guardrails, safety harnesses, and safety nets. Conduct regular inspections to identify and address potential slip hazards, such as slippery surfaces or loose materials. And emphasize the importance of maintaining a clean and organized work area.
6. Excessive Fatigue
Construction work is usually physically involved and requires a lot of lifting, pushing, and other similar movements. Working under the hot sun also makes construction workers predisposed to extreme fatigue. Unfortunately, excessive fatigue can lead to mistakes that increase the likelihood of disaster or injuries.
Always follow OSHA guidelines to ensure workers are keeping themselves well-rested and well-hydrated throughout the day, taking regular breaks, and using the right tools.
7. Road Work Zones
Summer is the ideal time for vacations, which usually means that more vehicles are on the road. Road work is known to be hazardous with the typical number of vehicles. Drivers sometimes take routes that avoid work zones, but it is still a cause for concern during summer.
It’s not always easy to spot a construction zone when out driving, but drivers often exceed the speed limit. Ticket fines increase if the speed limit isn’t followed to help mitigate this issue. Still, you need to ensure that workers are safe when in a vulnerable area by following OSHA guidelines.
Keep Your Employees Safe This Summer
Prevent summer workplace injuries by ensuring that your employees have what they need to stay safe. Partner with safety professionals at HealthSafe to make sure that employees follow OSHA guidelines to stay safe on the job site.
HealthSafe does not just make your business OSHA-compliant. We also build trust and confidence and are an industry leader in site safety staffing, safety consulting, and site safety compliance. We have worked with hundreds of clients across the United States representing all industries.