Construction is a profession that comes with plenty of risks. Indeed, injuries and ill health cost the construction injury around £1.3 billion a year. Falls and being struck are some of the most common causes of injury, but during a heatwave, the oppressive temperature can also pose a risk to construction workers. Below, we explore the risks and look at some tips for construction workers during heatwaves.
Risks and injuries
Construction workers are at risk of heat-related injuries and heat stress during heatwaves. Heat stress refers to a worker’s ability to regulate their body temperature: in hot weather, physical activity and warm clothing can overheat your body, leading to heat strain. Some of the risks arising in this scenario include heat stroke, heat exhaustion and fainting. These dangers are also exacerbated by underlying factors such as age, underlying health conditions, acclimatisation to heat and prescription of medication.
But what specific injuries can heat-related issues cause? Well, for a start, heat strain can cause impaired thinking, leading to dangerous mistakes being made on the construction site – putting everyone at risk. On top of this, dizziness, slippery hands, slowed response time and fatigue can all contribute to accidents in the heat too.
By understanding the symptoms of heatstroke, you can identify when these risks are most prevalent. A headache, dizziness, thirst, sickness and a high temperature could all potentially indicate that a construction worker is unwell and unfit to carry on working.
For a start, you can protect workers by carrying out regular health checks. Medical monitoring and assessing heat stress regularly can help you spot issues before they get worse. By providing your staff with the appropriate PPE and training, you can also empower your workforce to take preventative measures against heat stress.
However, there are plenty of other prevention measures you can take too. Encouraging regular rest breaks in the shade can help workers escape the sun and cool down. Similarly, you should also encourage regular hydration and provide the supplies necessary for this. On top of this, you should assess the weather forecast before each day of a heatwave: if the temperature is rising to dangerous levels, you should lower and manage workloads.
Sometimes, though, even if you take all the precautions necessary as a worker, you’ll be let down by your employer and you’ll suffer an accident. In this situation, it’s worth contacting accident at work claims solicitors to help you win the compensation you deserve.
Working during a heatwave can be dangerous for construction workers. But whether you’re an employer or a worker, you can raise safety standards by following the guide above.