Construction Accidents: The Heat Is On

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A new study scheduled to be published in the journal Safety Science is drawing attention to an underappreciated risk faced by construction workers in many parts of the country. It is well-known that construction is a very dangerous profession, particularly for roofers due to the risk of falling, but there is another significant danger that is barely understood.

Construction work in general, and roofing in particular, is hot and sweaty work. Construction workers have to be in great shape, but being in great shape is no protection from the heat, particularly in heavy construction areas such as Phoenix and large parts of Texas. Heat-related illness and even death is frightfully common in these areas.

Contractors and foremen rarely have good systems in place to account for the risk of heat exhaustion. Workers are encouraged to get the job done, regardless of how hot it is or how they feel, regardless of whether temperatures on a rooftop in an Arizona summer can reach 130 degrees or higher. A common system is to have workers have thirty minute on, thirty minute off shifts, but broad measures like this don’t address that each individual responds different to the heat.

If you work in construction, it is important you are educated about the risks of heat exhaustion, because your employer probably won’t educate you. If you are working in the heat, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or headache
  • Fainting, dizziness, or extreme fatigue
  • Confusion or difficulty processing information
  • Rapid heartbeat

If you suffer any of these symptoms on the job, it is important you seek medical attention. Though your boss may not like it, you need to put your own health and safety first. If you or someone you love has suffered heat illness or other injury on the job, it is important you contact a qualified lawyer. So long as people fail to stand up and share their injury stories, the same unsafe working conditions will only continue.