Summer Dangers on Construction Sites

hot sun

The following is a guest post written by Laurence Banville, Esq.

Laurence Banville. Esq is the managing partner and face of Banville Law. Laurence is licensed to practice law in the state of New York. Originally from Ireland, Banville moved to the United States of America where he worked at law firms, refining his litigation and brief writing crafts. He is also the recipient of the Irish Legal 100 and the Top 40 Under 40 awards.

Spring is here and before we know it, summer will follow. In both seasons, weather conditions can present dangers to construction workers. Without education and preparation, workers may find that they are seriously ill or injured during work. 

Spring & Summer Can Be Dangerous For Outdoor Workers

Thanks to technological developments, most buildings can be temperature regulated, however, there are still many jobs that need to be performed outside, exposing workers to the elements. Each year, thousands of workers are hospitalized due to: 

Heat Exhaustion

This might not sound like a big deal, but heat exhaustion, if left untreated, can progress to heat stroke which can be deadly. When exposed to high temps, high humidity, and performing strenuous work, the body literally cannot get rid of the heat fast enough and if the worker isn’t cooled down, they could sustain serious internal damage. Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • feeling cold even in hot weather
  • goosebumps
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea
  • headache
  • weak pulse
  • low blood pressure

Anyone who is experiencing these symptoms should immediately stop work, drink cool water, and seek medical attention. 

Sun Burns

Most people have had a sunburn at some point in their lives and understand how painful it can be, but generally, they were able to get out of the rays of the sun before it reached a dangerous point. When the body sustains a severe sunburn, it can progress into what is known as sun poisoning. Symptoms of sun poisoning include:

  • intense pain
  • blistering 
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • fever and chills

Believe it or not, the burns to the skin can be so severe that patients will be admitted to the hospital burn unit for care. 

Lightning Strikes

Spring and summer storms can be beautiful and can develop rapidly. If workers are outside, they are at risk for being struck by lightning which can cause both internal and external burns and even stop the heart by disrupting the heartbeat with an electrical current. 

Toxic Plants

As usual, spring will bring lots of growth with it and plants will be blooming! This, however, includes plants that some people have serious allergic reactions to, such as poison ivy. While it is understood that poison ivy can cause a very irritating skin rash if touched, many aren’t aware that if burned, anyone who inhales the smoke could literally get the rash in their lungs which quickly become irritated and can make it difficult to breathe and putting them in the hospital. 

Mudslides

Admittedly, this particular hazards impact some areas more than others, but that being said, a mudslide can happen anywhere that substantial rains occur, especially after a drought. 

Explosions

Many of the products used around construction sites are kept in pressurized cans - aerosol cans. On very hot days, these containers may actually explode, sending toxic substances and projective pieces of the can into whomever is unlucky enough to be close by.

How Can Employers Prevent These Issues?

Injured and ill employees cost employers time and money. But often, with a little preparation and education, employees can be kept safe. In the coming months, employers should:

  • Track the weather. Know what type of conditions your employees will be working in. 
  • If possible, keep employees inside during the hottest part of the day. 
  • Provide plenty of fluids.
  • Provide protective clothing and sunscreen. 
  • Be aware of the work site - note any potentially poisonous plants in the area.
  • Keep your employees informed. 

Communication is always key - help your employees stay safe in the warm weather!