Given the extreme climate conditions that Ontario and the GTA have been facing this summer, it is crucial to keep our construction workers safe during the heat. With the recurring heatwaves, air quality concerns and UV index warnings, here are some tips to help protect construction workers on site.
1. Check alerts
Many apps and websites show quick updates on the forecast. Keeping your phone weather alerts turned on will show you useful information such as high UV index, rain percentages, smog/fog alerts and tornado warnings. Additionally, the Government of Canada releases Public Weather Alerts for Ontario which shows the weather concerns in specific areas. This allows workers to prepare for what they have to face in a given area and how to prepare for it.
Since Ontario’s summers tend to be very humid, it is important to stay hydrated at all times. This can be assured by bringing a large thermal bottle filled with cool water when working outside on the site. Drinks such as coconut water and sports drinks contain electrolytes that help fuel your body and keep you moving throughout the day while staying hydrated. It is also important to take frequent water breaks throughout the day to avoid dizziness and dehydration.
3. Take advantage of the shade
UV rays can affect your eyesight and head when they are exposed. Therefore it is important to be in the shade as much as possible or take five-minute shade breaks once in a while. Shade protection for faces, such as hats and sunglasses, is also needed to avoid any headaches or heat exhaustion.
The sun is inevitable when you are outside; therefore SPF is key to sun protection to keep your skin from burning. It is important to research what sunscreen is right for your body and how often to re-apply it. The level of SPF corresponds to the extent of UVB protection you’re getting from your sunscreen, so choosing any SPF between 30 and 60 is ideal. Experts also suggest to reapply sunscreen every 80 minutes to ensure active workers are getting full protection. Wearing long sleeves and covering the neck when possible will prevent sunburns and prevents sunscreen from sliding off.
5. Listen to your body
Construction workers spending excessive time working outdoors in the summer risk heat exhaustion and heat stroke from constant exposure; that’s why it is important to recognize the symptoms of both illnesses to avoid any harm. Other related illnesses such as heat rashes, heat stress, heat cramps, etc. can be cured; however it can also be fatal is not treated. Given that heat-related illnesses are common on the work site, it is crucial to monitor symptoms throughout the day and record any bodily changes when possible.
These five protection tips are helpful for construction workers to beat the heat this summer. The sun does impact construction productivity outdoors, so implementing these basic practices in daily work life will make a difference.