Dehydration can sneak up quickly if someone does not notice the symptoms. One time, in my early years of construction, I was working in the heat and didn't realize I was becoming dehydrated. I ended up having to go to the emergency room. When they stuck the IV into my arm, it was like taking a fresh breath of air after holding my breath for a few minutes—all my muscles began to awaken, and my mind began to clear.
Because construction projects are often in less controlled environments than other work places, it can require a greater awareness. Having a competent person on site who understands the dangers and is able to identify those situations can help younger employees and those new to the industry.
Below are 6 tips on staying safe in the heat.
Fans can help in a building. I would bring a few barn fans on the job to get air circulating through the building. You can also bring in temporary air conditioning for an enclosed space.
A water station is critical in staying hydrated. This is most important for those working outside. Encourage workers to take regular breaks, drink water often, and limit caffeine.
Adjust the schedule when possible to have the most physical work done when temperatures are coolest, like morning or night. Try to avoid intense work in the mid to late afternoon when temperatures are at their peak.
Using a cooling band under your hard hat or on the back of your neck can help keep you cool and prevent sun stroke.
Sometimes going to an air-conditioned restaurant or job trailer for lunch can help tremendously by giving the body a chance to cool down.
Training and educating employees about heat-related illness, including the early warning signs and how to address them properly, should be a priority in the summer season.