Working in the heat can quickly take a toll on busy contractors. It’s important to give the field the tools and information they need to stay safe in extreme weather.
We’ll teach you how to recognize the risks of heat-related illness and provide links to toolbox talks you can share with employees.
What are the risks of extreme heat in construction?
Contractors often put in long hours outside. The higher the temperature, the higher the risk of developing heat stress or heat stroke.
What is heat stress?
Heat stress is the most common health issue related to warm weather. According to the CDC, symptoms include exhaustion, cramps, and rashes.
If you experience any of the above, immediately stop working, drink water, and move to a shaded or air conditioned area if possible.
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a more serious and life-threatening form of heat stress that happens when your body reaches temperatures above 103°F. It requires emergency medical treatment. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, confusion, and fainting, and it can permanently damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and other vital organs if untreated.
If a coworker exhibits the symptoms of heat stroke, contact 911, move them to a cooler area, and apply water, wet washcloths, ice packs, or any other means available to lower their temperature.
While not as serious as heat stress or heat stroke, normal reactions to high temperatures can also pose a safety risk on the jobsite. For example, sweat may make it more difficult to see or secure tools and materials, while fatigue can make it difficult to concentrate.
How can you prevent heat stress and heat stroke?
Giving a toolbox talk is a great way to remind workers to keep the risks of heat stress and heat stroke in mind.
Schedule a brief meeting, download one or both of our toolbox talks below, and read them to workers before a hot workday. They’ll learn how to identify and prevent heat stress and heat stroke and what to do if they or a coworker experience either issue.
Heat stress toolbox talk
Our free heat stress toolbox talk covers the signs and symptoms of heat stress in detail and provides advice for staying cool and hydrated.
Heat stroke toolbox talk
This free heat stroke toolbox talk explains the seriousness of heat stroke and gives instructions for administering first aid.
Other prevention ideas
Prevent both heat stress and heat stroke on the jobsite by providing plenty of breaks and fresh, cool water for your crew.
You should also make sure field workers have an easy way to report potential concerns. If the weather is too extreme or there are unsafe conditions due to heat, they need a way to submit a safety observation so that offsite stakeholders can adjust the schedule for a later date or start time or provide another solution.
Keep your crew safer with Raken
Raken’s construction safety software includes a toolbox talk library of over 100 topics, including heat stress and heat stroke. Schedule talks in advance and digitally capture attendance right from the field using a phone or tablet.
Our app also features managed checklists, observations, and automated reporting tools to empower your team to quickly identify and resolve safety and quality risks.