Safety tips offered to help those working outside in the heat – St. John News


By Jennifer Beidle West Trade Contractors [email protected]

Summer is a great time for construction work, but a brutal time for construction workers. Excessive heat and exposure to the sun pose significant dangers, such as sunburn, dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Every year, construction workers fall ill on the job and some even lose their lives due to heat exposure.

To protect its workers from extreme summer heat, Western Specialty Contractors operates a heat illness training program and a hotline for its employees.

As part of the program, training is provided to all employees and supervisors who work at high temperatures. Training topics include: how heat can affect the body, how to identify the signs and symptoms of various heat-related illnesses, and what to do if a co-worker has symptoms of a heat-related illness. Western is also regulating the warmer environment by providing water and shade to workers and having supervisors and safety officers monitor the heat index so that appropriate protective measures can be taken.

“It’s important, especially during the summer months, that outdoor workers drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration, which is the leading cause of heat cramps and heat exhaustion,” said said Cameron Samuel, assistant director of security at Western Specialty Contractors.

Samuel, who has training and experience in managing the health and safety of outdoor workers, offers the following tips for preventing heat-related illnesses on a construction site:

Drink water frequently and drink enough water so you never feel thirsty. Drink water or other non-caffeinated electrolyte drinks and make sure your drinks are always cold and not at room temperature. Adding a slice of lemon to water can make plain water more drinkable. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing made from natural materials like cotton. Avoid wearing non-breathable synthetic clothing. Wear safety glasses with UV protection, sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hard hat. Gradually move up to heavy work. If possible, do the hardest work during the coolest part of the day. Workers who are suddenly exposed to working in a hot environment face additional health and safety risks. New workers and those who return from time to time should take extra care in making sure they stay hydrated. Take more breaks in extreme heat and humidity. If possible, move to shade or a cool place like an air-conditioned building or car, but try not to get in and out of the air conditioning too much, as this will make it harder for you to adapt to the heat. Use cooling fans whenever possible. Select your lunch carefully. Junk food is high in fat and preservatives and will put a high caloric load on the digestive system. Try eating a bigger breakfast so you’re less hungry at lunch. Eat light lunches that include fruits, vegetables and salads. Keep an eye on your co-workers and watch for signs of heat exhaustion. Early symptoms include lethargy, disorientation, stumbling, falling tools, slurred speech, or unresponsiveness. Heat stroke is a medical emergency requiring a call to 911 and immediate cooling. Check the frequency and color of your urine throughout the day. Water intake is adequate when the urine is clear or pale yellow. When the desire to urinate is less than twice a day and/or you produce dark yellow urine, you may be dehydrated.

By training employees on the early signs of heat exhaustion, taking proper precautions, and using tips like those listed above, outdoor workers can significantly reduce the risk of heat-related hazards.

About Western Specialty Contractors

Family-owned and operated for over 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. Western offers a national network of expertise that building owners, engineers, architects and property managers can rely on. to develop cost effective remedial measures that can add years of useful life to a variety of structures including: industrial, commercial, healthcare, historic, educational and government buildings, parking structures and sports stadiums. Western is headquartered in St. Louis, MO with 30 branch offices nationwide and employs more than 1,200 salaried and hourly professionals who provide the best, proven techniques and innovative technology. For more information about Western Specialty Contractors, visit


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