Florida construction is booming – and thousands of construction workers are working under the scorching summer sun. Florida heat can be intense and dangerous. Forty (40) percent of heat-related deaths happen in construction. With the quick rise in construction employment, there are many new workers who may not be used to working under the Florida sun. Contractors should recognize that it takes time for new employees (and especially those with weight and medical conditions) to acclimate to working under the Florida summer sun. To educate contractors, OSHA has created some great resources for your company on how to create a Heat Illness Prevention Plan. Employers are responsible to educate workers on the dangers of working in high heat and implement actions that control the risks. Construction related employers have learned how to protect workers from heat. It comes down to three keywords – Water. Rest. Shade.
- Heat illnesses can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition.
- Employers are responsible to protect workers: Under OSHA regulations, employers are responsible for protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program. Read heat index guide for employers.
- Provide workers with water, rest and shade.
- Adjust work practices. Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.
- Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention.
- Monitor workers for the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others during hot weather. Plan for an emergency, learn first aid and know what to do — acting quickly saves lives.
Read more about heat stress from the University of Florida – IFAS Extension. If your company needs assistance with setting up a heat illness prevention plan, just give us a call.