Outside, temperatures were breaking records as a searing late-June heat wave settled across the western portion of the United States. Portland reached a record high of 111 degrees, only to be once again broken the very next day. In Colorado things are no different and we are concerned that construction companies may be overlooking the signs of heat stress at a jobsite.
Just about any kind of work gets harder when it’s hot. Some of the most visible risks are for people who work outdoors, for instance, on construction sites. More than 15 million people in the United States have jobs that require them to be outdoors at some point, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Extreme heat can impair safety and productivity, even indoors. Factories, warehouses, foundries, and kitchens can get dangerously hot in normal weather, and during a heat wave, it only gets harder to stay cool. And as Carlin experienced, heat can be harmful even in places that are air-conditioned and otherwise thoughtfully managed.
Such high temperatures in turn lead to injuries. In a working paper released this week, Park and his colleagues examined worker injury claims across all sectors in California from 2001 to 2018. They found that heat led to 20,000 additional injuries per year in the state, with a social cost of $1 billion.
So what are the signs of heat stress for construction workers?
- Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
- Heavy sweating
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Low blood pressure upon standing
- Muscle cramps
At Colorado Safety Supply we carry quite a few products for heat stress mitigation on construction jobsites and that are even good enough for the average person to have when they go camping along the front range or to have in their car.