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Preventing heat illnesses for construction workers

Kids may have to go back to school soon, but the summer heat does not appear to be going down any time soon. Many outdoor workers are in danger of suffering from heat illnesses at their work, but few are quite at risk as much as construction workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 40 percent of heat-related deaths come from the construction industry.

It is crucial for supervisors to know of the signs that come with heat-related illnesses and how to keep their workers safe. Failure to respond could result in serious injuries for the victims. With how much construction there is in Chicago and how hot it can get in the city, there are thousands of workers that could be at risk.

A hot halt

The most common heat illnesses found within construction workers are heat strokes and heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is relatively easy to identify. The victim would be sweating profusely and show signs of dizziness, weakness, thirst and light headedness. Heat strokes will have more serious signs as the victim has most of the same signs as heat exhaustion, except that they can also suffer from confusion, fainting or seizures.

Construction workers have a much higher chance of obtaining heat cramps than most other outdoor jobs. These are painful muscle spasms that typically occur in their arms, abdomen or legs. This happens when the victim has been performing excessive strenuous physical work for long periods of time.

If a construction worker catches any of these illnesses during their shift, they can have a difficult time lifting materials and operating equipment. This puts themselves surrounding workers at risk from their lack of balance and coordination. A person unable to walk straight should not be allowed to carry metal or concrete materials in the crowded construction sites of Chicago.

The solution

In the event of a heat emergency, OSHA recommends workers take the following actions to help the victims:

  • Call 911
  • Place the worker in a cool, shady location
  • Take off layers of clothing
  • Give them fluids to keep them hydrated
  • Provide potential ice and fans to cool their body down
  • Avoid having the worker go back to work until they are ready

Supervisors of Chicago construction sites have a duty to keep their workers safe by not pushing them too hard during hot days. They need to remind the workers of the day’s temperature and the protocols they should follow to avoid suffering from a heat illness.

If you or a loved one are the victim of a heat-related illness from a supervisor pushing you too hard or a negligent worker who did not know how to act in the situation, you could be eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses with the assistance of a workplace injury lawyer.

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