Over 46 million people are currently under active extreme heat advisories, watches, and warnings, according to the National Weather Service. With most of the country feeling the effects of the heat, BUILDER asked home builder associations in some of the hottest metros how their members are keeping safe during record temperatures.
In Arizona, the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) announced a state emphasis program to combat heat illness and injury in the workplace. The Home Builders Association of Central Arizona has seen an uptick in requests for more heat safety materials and recommends the well-known rules of water, rest, and shade, which the ADOSH program is pressing.
“In the middle of a devastating heat wave, Arizona’s workers need relief,” says Gov. Katie Hobbs. “I’m proud to take action to protect Arizonans from the heat and help keep our workplaces safe. This commonsense emphasis plan is a critical step in building an Arizona for everyone, where working people can go to their jobs every day knowing we have a plan to keep them safe.”
Sharing OSHA heat illness guidelines and the NAHB's Heat Stress Safety Toolkit, the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association (SNHBA) is focusing on preventive plans and policies that keep members safe when working under the heat waves.
“Taking care of our employees, especially in the summer months, is a top priority. Heat illness is preventable, and ensuring we recognize the symptoms, put in place preventative measures, and support policies like earlier construction start times will keep our workers safe,” says Melany Quintero, government affairs coordinator for the SNHBA.
The Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans provides their builders with a summer heat fact sheet that outlines the warning signs of heat-related illness and ways to prevent it. Below are collective tips from Arizona, Louisiana, and Nevada on how to keep safe and cool.
- Modify Work Schedules. Whenever possible, start work earlier. In Maricopa County, Arizona, most cities allow work to begin at 5 or 6 am. The earlier start times offer an opportunity to work in “cooler” temperatures. More frequent breaks are also recommended throughout the day.
- Acclimate to the Heat. Most heat stress incidents can happen on the first few days of a job, especially for new employees. Gradually increasing exposure to elevated temperatures can help to build tolerance.
- Wear Appropriate Clothing. Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing can help to reduce heat retention. Wide-brimmed hats, clothing with cooling technology, sunglasses, and hard hat shades are also beneficial.
- Drink Water. Even when workers don’t feel thirsty, ensure they are drinking water frequently—preferably every 15 minutes. A hydration chart to note times and amounts is helpful in tracking who is hydrating properly.
- Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol. Drinks containing caffeine and alcohol (while off the clock) can cause dehydration. As the body sweats in extreme temperatures, any additional inhibitors of hydration can be dangerous. Water and drinks with added electrolytes are the best options to keep workers safe.
- Create Shade. On jobsites where there’s limited shade, or no shade at all, creating shade via tents, tarps, and umbrellas can keep body temperatures lower and permit more effective break times. Breaks taken in air-conditioned work vehicles are also helpful in cooling body temperature.