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Construction workers: Staying safe in the heat

Employees or contractors who work in the heat have an increased likelihood of heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke. Your body attempts to regulate its own temperature by forcing blood to the surface of our skin. That means that there is less blood to go to your brain, organs and muscles. Prolonged exposure can be extremely dangerous.

Your employer should take special precautions to keep you safe from the heat once the temperature reaches 91° or above. The following tips can help you and your fellow employees stay safe while working in the summer sun.

1. Follow strict work-rest cycles.

Allowing your body to cool off while you are working can help to reduce heat exhaustion. Many jobs that are in the heat for long periods of time involve a great deal of physical exertion. It may also include working in bulky, protective clothing that does not breathe well. The clothing and the exertion combine to make the environment seem even hotter. Allowing yourself a breather every hour (or shorter if the temperatures are higher) can cut down on the risk of heat-related illnesses.

2. Get plenty of water.

Your body sweats to cool itself. When you run out of water to sweat, your body can overheat quickly. Get plenty of water and stop to drink as needed. It is important to stay hydrated as you work.

3. Build up a tolerance to the heat. 

If possible, try to expose yourself to the heat in shorter durations first. Then, you can work up to longer hours in the heat. This will build up your tolerance so it is not as shocking to your body to work your regular hours in the heat.

Of course, you should use air conditioning and other climate control mechanisms, but for many workers, that is simply not an option.

The heat can result in serious injuries. If you have been injured on the job due to heat or another reason, contact a workers' compensation attorney to find out more about work injury benefits.

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