High temperatures are not only uncomfortable, but they can also lead to illness and death.
Working in extreme heat puts people at risk for heat-related illnesses as they endure the heat for extended periods. When work in the heat involves exertion, the risk increases.
How heat-related illnesses occur
Many external factors that workers are subject to in their work environment, including air temperature, humidity, airflow and clothing, affect a body’s internal core temperature. When a body is unable to regulate its core body temperature, illnesses such as heat stress, heat strain, heat stroke and heat rashes can happen. All of these illnesses take a toll on the body.
Heat sources in construction work
Labor-intensive construction work causes increased body heat, and the protective gear that construction workers wear can trap the heat and make it even hotter. Machinery and tools used for construction often generate heat as well. Indoor construction work often takes place in confined spaces, such as basements, attics or crawl spaces, with little climate control or breeze to cut the heat. Outdoor construction work often occurs in high temperatures under a blazing sun.
Any one of those sources of heat can make working conditions uncomfortable. Construction workers often deal with multiple sources of heat at the same time, leading them to suffer heat-related illnesses far too often.
Construction workers run a higher risk for injuries in extreme heat. Working with tools and machinery in construction work requires concentration and coordination. When heat dulls these skills and abilities, injuries become more common.