Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Construction workers are particularly susceptible to heat exposure due to long hours outside or working in rooms without climate control.
Heat stress can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat rashes. Heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses and dizziness. Burns may also occur from accidental contact with hot surfaces, like overheated tools.
Ensuring that your body is regularly hydrated and protected from the sun during hot months is essential to maintaining balance for performing well at work. Workers need to be especially diligent in monitoring their heat levels now as COVID-19 safety protocols call for increased use of face coverings and spending more time outdoors.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has extensive resources to help keep workers safe in high-heat environments. The NIOSH resources include tips on how to recognize and prevent heat-related illness, how to acclimatize to heat, and a section on dealing with increased heat burden while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) like face coverings, boots and gloves.
NIOSH has also teamed up with OSHA on a Heat Safety Tool app that can be downloaded to any smartphone. The app features real-time heat index and hourly forecasts, specific a user's location, as well as occupational safety and health recommendations from OSHA and NIOSH.
NAHB also has resources to keep residential construction workers safe in the heat. Visit the Heat Stress Video Toolbox Talk for a video and downloadable resources to help beat the heat.
The home building industry is booming right now thanks, in part, to the tireless efforts of NAHB and HBAs. But don't let the rapid pace of construction prevent you from protecting yourself and workers in the extreme summer heat.
For more information on safety resources, visit nahb.org.