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Summer Safety Tips 2021: How to Keep Your Team Safe

Worker at construction site on a hot day hydrating

It’s that time of year again: time for barbeques, drinks on the patio, and long days spent at the beach. Summer seems to have come early this year, and our branch teams across the country are working to beat the heat in order to keep everyone safe during these sunny months.

While just about everyone knows it is important to stay hydrated, the risks of heat stress are surprisingly not as well-known. Construction workers are especially at risk during the warm summer months, with over 40% of heat-related medical issues on the job occurring in the construction industry. Here are four tips for how to prevent heat-related illnesses and keep everyone on your team safe:

1. Learn to Recognize and Prevent Symptoms of Heat Stress

In order to prevent heat stress, first you must know how to identify it. Be sure to educate your crew and co-workers on the various symptoms associated with heat stress. This will not only help employees keep themselves safe, but also help them recognize the warning signs in fellow team members and avoid a potential emergency.

“During the summer, managers need to remain vocal about the importance of heat stress prevention,” says Brian Stommel, Operations and Fleet Specialist for L&W Supply. “One of the things we do at L&W is require everyone to take a training course on heat-stress that walks them through the symptoms and warning signs.”

Some of the signs that a person is experiencing heat stress include:

  • Heat rash, causing red bumps on the skin where sweat does not evaporate.
  • Muscle spasms and pain in the abdomen, arms, or legs, which is a sign of heat cramps.
  • Nausea, dizziness, and lightheadedness, which can lead to heat stroke.

Train your employees to check in with each other on hot days on the jobsite and alert a supervisor if any problems should arise.

2. Avoid Scheduling Jobs During the Hottest Part of the Day

A sunny jobsite in the morning hours

A sunny jobsite in the morning hours.

The hottest part of the day is typically between 12 and 3pm during the summer months. This is when temperatures are highest, and therefore, the most hazardous time for working outside. Whenever possible, try and adjust work schedules to take advantage of the coolest parts of the day.

If your job requires heavy work to be done throughout the day, plan to have your crew work in shifts, with breaks planned during the hottest times. Early mornings and late afternoons are typically less warm than the middle of the day.

Additionally, be sure keep track of how many hours each team member is putting in and whether or not they are wearing thick clothing or protective gear. Some crew members may request overtime hours or fail to recognize heat-related symptoms before putting in extra hours. It is up to you to monitor how hard your crew is working and adjust schedules accordingly.

3. Schedule Frequent Breaks and Create a Shady Hydration Station

It is extremely important that workers have access to water and shade while on a job site. Almost all heat-related ailments can be easily prevented by simply staying hydrated and limiting time spent in direct sunlight. You want to make it easy as possible for employees to take a break for a few minutes in the shade and hydrate.

If the site has no sources of shade, set up a canopy tent in an accessible location, preferably several different locations on larger sites. Stock a large supply of cold water bottles and sports drinks around your site to ensure that employees don’t have to travel far to hydrate themselves.

4. Build and Maintain a Culture of Safety

Above all else, a strong culture of safety is needed in order to help ensure that everyone on a jobsite remains healthy year-round. What do we mean by a culture of safety?

At L&W Supply, our #1 goal is to make sure that every single person makes it home at the end of every day. Here are four key components of a workplace with an effective culture of safety:

  • Open Communication: Your team members have opportunities to voice their opinion and express concerns.
  • Training: Comprehensive onboarding for new employees and training opportunities for new products and equipment.
  • Lead by Example: Any effective culture of safety has to start at the top. Management must talk the talk, and walk the walk.
  • Compliance: Each member of the team is fully-versed in the latest OSHA and DOT regulations.

Stay vocal about the importance of hydration during hot days. Check in with your fellow team members frequently to see how they are doing and schedule frequent, mandatory breaks. The mere act of reminding – or even insisting – crew members to hydrate themselves can go a long way towards preventing heat stress on hot days in the sun.

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With these tips in mind, you should have all the information you need to help keep your employees safe during the hottest part of the year. To learn more about L&W Supply’s commitment to safety, visit this page: Culture of Safety

If you’d like to read more about heat stress prevention, check out the following links:

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3154.pdf

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/prevention.html