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Summer Heat: What Construction Workers Need To Know

Construction work will often take place during nicer weather. It makes sense. It is much easier to work outside when you don't have to navigate rain, sleet, snow and ice. However, as we make our way through the dog days of summer, it is important to note that construction workers face dangers imposed upon them by 'Mother Nature.' August temperatures in New York have hovered around or above 90°. During the construction boom these elevated temperatures can lead to serious construction accidents. Everyone needs to be careful.

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The Construction Accident Lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy are all too familiar with what may happen if construction workers are forced to work in extreme heat. They have seen first-hand workers who have suffered traumatic falls while working high up in the air at construction sites because of heat stress. Below are some essential facts that all construction workers should be familiar with as it relates to working during these hot summer months. We hope that workers as well as employers, property owners and general contractors take the appropriate precautions to avoid serious injuries due to the heat.

According to NIOSH, heat stress from exertion or hot environments, places construction workers at risk for heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Heat stroke is an ailment which occurs when a person is no longer able to control their body temperature. It can lead to tragic consequence, including death or serious injury. A worker who sustained heatstroke may recover in a day or even after few hours. It also can render someone permanently disabled.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • High body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination (this is particularly dangerous when someone is working at an elevated site without appropriate fall protection)
  • Hot, dry skin or excessive sweating
  • Throbbing headache
  • Coma and/or Seizures

Worker should also be wary of the impact that heat exhaustion may have on them. Heat exhaustion generally occurs during a period of time where a person is profusely sweating. It is the body's response to an unanticipated loss of water and/or salt.

  • Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
  • Rapid heartbeat and fast, shallow breathing
  • Profuse sweating
  • Extreme dizziness, weakness or fatigue
  • Elevated body temperatures

Construction workers who are feeling symptoms as a result of exposure to excess heat should cease all work and try to find a cool place in the shade to rest. They should drink water or clear fluids and avoid any strenuous activity. Workers should consider taking a cold shower or bath to reduce their body's temperature. If the symptoms appear more serious than they should immediately seek medical attention by contacting their doctor or going directly to a local hospital.

Everyone should be aware of the perils that are associated with performing construction work during extremely warm temperatures. The above conditions can usually be avoided if the appropriate steps are taken to protect workers. Workers who are asked to do their job& should be careful to avoid heavy exertion. They should be aware of and look out for the symptoms detailed above. Worker should be encouraged to wear light-colored clothing that is loose fitting so that it does not increase their body temperature. The heaviest work should be done at the course time of day and breaks should be taken more frequently. Breaks should be taken in shaded areas and be accompanied by plenty of fluids.

Worker safety requires that the impact of extremely warm weather be taken into account at construction sites. If the people responsible for worker safety are cognizant of the above issues than a great deal of unnecessary construction accidents can be avoided.

The lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy have a long and proud tradition of fighting for construction workers. They have recovered nearly $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for their injured clients. You may receive a free consultation by calling them at 212.736-5300.

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