Current extreme temperature and humidity are exposing New York construction workers to higher risks of accidents related to heat. Road workers especially those handling asphalt as well as house builders working in attics can get easily dehydrated and suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
It is important during hot days, like those we have this week in New York, that employers remind their workers to drink a lot of water and make sure they are well hydrated while they are working. Employers should also ensure that their supervisors are proprely trained to recognize signs of heat exhaustion. When a supervisor sees that a worker starts to be lightheaded, that his color seems a little off or that he starts to sweat more than usual, he should pull him aside and make sure he takes a break in a shady area.
WATER, REST, SHADE
Since 2011, OSHA has been campaigning every summer to keep workers safe in the heat. The main message of the campaign is WATER, REST, SHADE. Every year in the US thousands of workers suffer from heat illnesses and dozens of them die from it. 40% of the workers who died were construction workers. It is the responsibility of the employers to protect their employees from any hazard or accident. Therefore OSHA recommends that any employers whose workers are exposed to high temperature, develops a specific heat illness prevention program. This program should include:
- Providing workers with rest, shade and water
- Making sure that new employees are slowly building a tolerance to heat by allowing them more frequent breaks and gradually increasing their workload
- Train and inform workers on how to prevent heat illnesses
- Have an emergency plan ready in case a worker gets sick
- Constantly monitor for signs of heat exhaustion
On its website, OSHA provides ample resources for employers to understand what they can do to keep their workers safe and what they need to know.