This has been a very hot summer. While most are enjoying some summer time fun in the sun, others have one of the hottest jobs there is, roofing. Spending the whole day up on a hot roof, in the blazing sun, with no shade or relief, is obviously no picnic. But more important, it’s downright dangerous.
An extremely hot and humid work environment is not only uncomfortable, it can lead to fatigue and poor judgement. This is why it’s especially important for roofing contractors to implement a comprehensive heat-stress program.
The key elements to a heat-stress program are sufficient rest and proper hydration. Additionally, employees should avoid performing excessive physical activities outdoors before going to work, and to avoid showing up at the job site already overheated and exhausted.
Signs and symptoms of heat stress include:
- Continuous and excessive sweating
- Red, flushed skin
- General body fatigue
- Feeling lightheaded and dizziness
- Nausea / vomiting
- Muscle cramps in the hands and feet
- Dark-colored urine
Countermeasures to make sure you avoid heat-related problems:
- Take regular breaks in air-conditioned areas. However, if AC isn’t available, find shaded, cooler areas or an area with fans.
- Drink plenty of sports drinks such as Gatorade because they will replenish electrolytes lost to extensive sweating.
- Drink as many as up to 10 8-oz. Cups of water in an 8-hour shift. However, be careful to not over hydrate.
- Thirst is a poor indicator of heat stress, make sure you don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water.
- Wet down your hair, neck and face with water as often as possible.
Heat-related illness is a serious risk in the roofing industry, which is why it should be taken seriously. A little common sense along with these tips will help you avoid its debilitating effects.
To help prevent work-related heat illnesses, pay attention to the weather predictions. If high heat and humidity are in the forecast, ensure you have a plan in place to combat the heat’s harmful effects.
By recognizing the signs of heat stress and its symptoms at their onset, and following these simple guidelines, you can help ensure your employees will be safe on the job and minimize heat-related illness while on the job.