Summer Safety: Staying Cool on Site

People working on construction sites are especially vulnerable to heat illnesses and should take precautions to ensure safety at the hottest points of the year. Exposure to the heat causes dozens of deaths and thousands of injuries a year in the U.S.

CMSWillowbrook takes a proactive role in educating employees about preventing heat-related ailments. It’s part of our commitment to safe job sites, and our employees have gone approximately 1.9 million hours without a recordable heat-related incident or illness.

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We help our crews stay cool in multiple ways:

Talking about heat safety

We raise awareness about heat safety as well as signs and symptoms of heat illness. We begin talking about heat illnesses in mid-spring and regularly use toolbox talks – a weekly meeting on the job site – as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of hydration and taking ample breaks during the summer.

We provide periodic training on heat illness symptoms, treatment and preventive measures. Signs posted on CMSWillowbrook job sites remind employees to keep cool, and we encourage employees to look out for each other.

Beating the heat

Summer presents a great opportunity for employees to get an early start. The hours just after the sun comes up are typically cooler than mid-day or early evening. Being flexible with scheduling helps ensure our employees avoid heat exposure during the hottest parts of the day and work at their best.

Creating hydration stations

Our crews begin hydrating at the start of the day and are encouraged to frequently stop by the water coolers we keep on site. Supplementing water intake with sports drinks containing electrolytes can also help, but we tell employees they shouldn’t only rely on them.

 
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Taking time to cool off

Air-conditioned job trailers are available at almost all of CMSWillowbrook’s project sites for breaks.

Keeping sunscreen and shades handy

Body temperature isn’t the only thing to consider during the summer. It’s important to wear proper eye protection to deflect the sun’s rays, which can be especially bright on construction sites. Employees are encouraged to apply sunscreen, which can help reduce the risk of skin cancer, and wear a hard hat to help protect their ears and scalp. CMSWillowbrook provides personal protective equipment (PPE) to stay safe.

 
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Acclimating to the heat

Allowing the body time to acclimate to the extreme heat is key to avoid overheating. Going from an office environment to extended periods of time on the job site can be dangerous. Our employees are encouraged to slowly transition to spending multiple hours at a job site.  

Staying weather aware

CMSWillowbrook also suggests employees stay aware of the heat index and work with site supervisors to avoid working during peak heat. We encourage our employees to download and use the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool, which calculates the heat index for a worksite and displays a risk level. 

The summer months present unique challenges, but we know how to stay cool on the job site. CMSWillowbrook always prioritizes employee safety while simultaneously ensuring your project is successfully completed on time.

Kent Dalrymple is the director of safety and risk management at CMSWillowbrook.

Larisha Hunter