With COVID-19 continuing to spread across the U.S., safety teams remain on high alert. In addition to standard practices, construction sites have already implemented various new policies to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including:
- Daily temperature checks
- Requiring employees to stay home if not feeling well
- Wearing a mask or face-covering that covers the nose and mouth
- Maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet
- Minimizing equipment sharing and regularly wiping equipment down
- Daily sanitization of equipment, frequently touched surfaces and personal clothing
- Practicing proper hand washing throughout the day or using hand sanitizer when a sink isn’t available
- Keeping workers educated about the latest COVID-19 protocols during toolbox talks
Now that summer is in full swing, there are additional hazards and challenges to consider. These top summer safety practices can help keep construction workers safe when the heat is intense.
- Avoid long periods of work in direct mid-day sunshine. If possible, complete portions of work that must be performed out in the open early or late in the day.
- Stay hydrated. Do not wait until thirst sets in to drink fluids, drink them regularly throughout the day. Avoid caffeinated and sugary beverages as they can add to dehydration. Instead, focus on mainly drinking water.
- Eat smart. Eating a heavy meal can make the body sluggish, especially in the heat. Instead, try to choose lighter healthier options for lunch to keep you energized throughout the afternoon. In addition, salty snacks throughout the day can help to replenish sodium lost through sweat.
- Wear sunscreen and lightweight breathable clothing, in lighter colors. Not only will this protect your skin from UV rays but it will also help keep your body temperature down.
- Take regular breaks, preferably in shaded areas. While resting, use that time to drink water, eat a small snack and reapply sunscreen. When removing your face covering to cool off or eat a snack, make sure to do so a safe distance from others.
- Be aware of signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If after excessive sweating, you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous, confused or disoriented, have slurred speech, get a throbbing heading or worse, you suddenly stop sweating altogether, you need to hydrate immediately. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or anyone else, get immediate medical attention, as this can result in death or disability.
The following resources offer more advice on summer construction safety: Construction’s Top 5 Summer Safety Hazards and What To Do About Them, 17 Summer Safety Tips for Construction: Keep Your Team Safe in the Heat and 10 Hot-Weather Safety Tips for Construction.
Additionally, check out OSHA’s COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce or the CDC’s What Construction Workers Need to Know about COVID-19, for more advice on how to stay safe during the pandemic.
Thanks to all the hardworking construction workers who are helping to build and grow our communities. Stay safe out there!