Preventing Heatstroke for Construction Workers

Heat kills more than 500 people in the U.S. each year. To manage this risk, Ohio construction insurance companies recommend that business owners follow OSHA guidelines for preventing heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses in employees. Employers should also educate themselves about this potential problem so that they understand its severity and know how to recognize symptoms should a worker become ill.

Understand Heat-Related Illness

Normal temperature varies among individuals from 97 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. While the temperature extremities such as fingers and toes may fluctuate outside of this range, the body’s core stays constant to within one-half of a degree at all times. The body has a natural thermostat to maintain this temperature, causing it to shiver when the temperature drops too low and to sweat when it becomes too warm.

When core temperature is too high, the body’s thermostat can malfunction and create a positive feedback loop that allows it to get even hotter. This situation is the precursor to heat-related illness, which can take various forms ranging from minor discomfort to life-threatening heatstroke. Here are some symptoms to be aware of:

  • Exhaustion
  • Cramping
  • Fainting
  • Skin irritation
  • Muscle breakdown
  • Confusion and death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen

Identify Risk Factors

Unfortunately, factors that increase heat stress on workers are common on construction sites. This situation creates what OSHA refers to as excessive heat stress on workers. Supervisors should note when the following conditions exist and provide insurance for the construction company by taking steps to mitigate them:

  • High temperature and humidity
  • Direct sun exposure
  • Limited airflow
  • Lack of drinking water
  • Extensive personal protective equipment

Heat strain is the body’s attempt to deal with the temperature stress it is experiencing, but not everyone responds to heat in the same way. Healthy people can withstand moderate stress, but certain variables decrease the body’s ability to respond effectively. Get to know your employees and take into account the following personal risk factors:

  • Physical condition and health problems
  • Medications
  • Lack of exposure to outdoor conditions
  • Advanced age
  • Previous incidents of heat-related illness

Prevent Heat Stroke

Administrators have the power to protect employees not just with Ohio construction insurance but also with the following tangible changes to structures and procedures:

  • Provide shade or air-conditioned rooms for breaks
  • Install outdoor fans
  • Block heat with reflective shields
  • Make climate acclimatization part of training for new and returning employees
  • Adjust the schedule to avoid working during the hottest part of the day

Educating workers about ways to modify their personal behaviors to avoid overheating is another important measure. Encourage them to take breaks and to drink water frequently. Providing them with personal protective equipment such as sun hats, cooling vests, and water-cooled neckbands is an investment in safety.

About Haughn & Associates 

Founded by Michael Haughn in 1986, Haughn & Associates is a full-service, family-owned, independent insurance agency based out of Dublin, Ohio. H&A strives to provide the best possible price and unique insurance solutions across a myriad of industries, including construction, IT, Habitation & Commercial Property, Agriculture, and Engineering. Devoted to providing the best of business insurance, life and disability insurance, personal insurance, employee benefits, and bonds, H&A is proof that success lies in long-standing client relations and satisfaction. To learn more about how H&A can be of service to you, contact us at (877) 802-2278.