Education is the key to conquering any kind of jobsite safety risk, and the summer heat is no exception. We take heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other heat-related threats very seriously, and as the temperatures climb, we discuss their warning signs and remedies at our biweekly meetings of superintendents (Mark IV's title for lead carpenter) as well as at the biweekly meetings each super holds on jobsites for his crews.
Our crews know that the warning signs of heat-related illnesses include clammy skin, confusion, and weakness (OSHA has free “heat stress cards” available at www.osha.gov).
We also take preventive measures. For example, we provide water on each jobsite and encourage workers to frequently drink small amounts. Drinking massive quantities of water can be just as dangerous as being dehydrated. If supers buy water or ice for their jobsite, we reimburse them.
Other measures on very hot days include keeping fans running to circulate air, running the home's air conditioning on inside jobs, giving all field staff Mark IV baseball hats to keep the sun off their face, and having more breaks than the usual three (15 minutes in the morning and afternoon, and 30 minutes for lunch).
Above all, we're always conscious of heat-related risks. For instance, if we see a guy sitting in front of a fan, it might be a good idea to ask if he's feeling lightheaded. Everybody knows the signs, but they don't always chalk it up to the heat, so we err on the side of safety.
—Andy Hannan is the production manager of Mark IV Builders, Bethesda, Md.