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Heatwave safety precautions for construction workers

As extreme summer temperatures become more and more common in California, it’s important for employers to protect construction workers and other employees who work outside from the dangers of heat illness.

Heatwave safety precautions for construction workers

The summer of 2022 has been one of the hottest on record in California, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees on multiple days. In response, the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued a news release reminding employers to keep construction workers safe from the heat.

According to the agency, employers are legally required to provide outdoor construction workers with:

  • Fresh water
  • Access to shade when temperatures reach 80 degrees or more and whenever requested by workers
  • Cool-down rest breaks in addition to regular breaks
  • A written heat safety plan that includes information on the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency

When temperatures reach or exceed 95 degrees, employers are additionally required to:

  • Regularly monitor workers for signs of heat illness
  • Ensure workers can get in contact with supervisors when needed

The symptoms of heat illness

Recognizing the signs of heat illness can help prevent health-related construction accidents and injuries. According to Cal/OSHA, early symptoms of the condition include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid pulse rate

Life-threatening symptoms include:

  • Hot, red and dry skin
  • High body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Convulsions