How To Identify and Prevent Heat Illness at Your Construction Site

Posted on May 2, 2022 •

At Mark III, we care for the health and wellbeing of our teammates and those on our job sites and we understand the importance of property safety and knowledge. Our Heat Illness Prevention Plan outlines how to prevent and treat heat-related illnesses when we face heatwaves.  

What are heat-related illnesses?

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat strokes are the most common heat-related illnesses. They can occur when the body can’t cool itself or function properly anymore because of exposure to extreme heat. In other words, your body can’t sweat enough to stay cool. 

According to OSHA, it is considered a heatwave when temperatures rise to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or more and are at least ten degrees higher than the average daily temperature in the preceding five days. 

What are the symptoms of heat illness?

The two most serious types of heat illness are Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke. 

If your workers show any signs of the following symptoms, it is very likely that they suffer from Heat Exhaustion:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Wet skin
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Nausea/Vomiting

The following symptoms can be signs of a Heat Stroke:

  • Confusion or worsening mental condition
  • Cannot think clearly
  • Slurred speech, poor coordination
  • May pass out
  • May collapse
  • May have seizures
  • May stop sweating
  • Worsening mental condition

If you recognize any of the above symptoms, it’s important to take action immediately to prevent more severe consequences. A heat stroke, for example, can cause permanent organ damage and potentially death, if untreated.

What to Do In an Emergency

It is crucial in an emergency to instantly notify the site supervisor while moving the sick person to a cool place. People suffering from heat exhaustion or stroke should never be left unattended and be given water in little sips if they are conscious. 

How to Prevent Heat Illnesses

One of the most important things to prevent heat illnesses is proper hydration. To calculate how much water your body needs, a good guide is 0.03 x your body weight (for kgs) and generally results in a figure between 2 – 3 litres. At Mark III, we provide drinking water at all of our construction sites free of charge. Our supervisors visually examine the water and ensure that it is suitably cool. All water containers are kept in sanitary condition and we remind our workers daily of the importance of hydration. 

Work schedules are planned in advance taking the weather forecast into consideration and encouraging our workers to take short scheduled breaks in the shade during the day. There are enough shade structures available to accommodate the number of workers on site at any given time. All employees who take preventative cool-down time will be monitored for heat illness symptoms. We also suggest wearing light-colored clothing that reflects the heat rather than absorbing it.

For further information and resources on heat illness prevention, visit the OSHA and CDC websites. 

Would you like to stay in touch and learn more about our projects, industry trends, and safety tips? 

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