Heat Stress is Serious

Originally published on June 20, 2016

Working in a hot environment, such as a construction site, puts stress on the body’s cooling system. When heat is combined with other work stresses – like hard physical labor, loss of fluids, or fatigue – it may lead to heat-related illness, disability or even death. There are three stages to heat-related illness: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat cramps are painful, brief muscle cramps that are brought on because the body has lost minerals through sweating. If cramping occurs, move to a cool area at once. Loosen clothing and drink cool water or an electrolyte replacement beverage. Seek medical aid if the cramps are severe, or don’t go away.

Heat exhaustion can occur after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures for several days and have become dehydrated. Symptoms include confusion, dizziness, headache, fatigue and sometimes nausea. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke. If you experience heat exhaustion, get out of the heat immediately and rest, preferably in an air-conditioned environment. If you can’t get inside, try to find the nearest cool and shady place. Slowly drink fluids. If possible, lie down with your feet and legs slightly elevated.

Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat illness and is a medical emergency. It often occurs after heat cramps or heat exhaustion are not properly cared for. But it can strike even if you have no previous signs of heat illness.

Heat stroke can kill, or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Symptoms are similar to heat exhaustion, but the skin is hot and dry and breathing is deep and fast. The victim may collapse. The body is no longer able to sweat, and the body temperature rises dangerously. If you suspect that someone is a victim of heat stroke – also known as sun stroke – call 911 immediately. Move the victim to a cool area and remove excess clothing while waiting on help to arrive. Fan and spray them with cool water. Offer sips of water if the victim is conscious.

There are things you can do to prevent heat-related illnesses.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Consider beverages that replace electrolytes. Stay away from beverages with caffeine. Caffeine contributes to dehydration.
  • Slow down in hot weather. Your body’s temperature-regulating system faces a much greater workload when the temperature and humidity are high.
  • If possible, get accustomed to the heat gradually.
  • Dress for hot weather. Light colored clothing reflects heat.
  • Get out of the heat occasionally. Take breaks in a cool, shady location.
  • Eat light, cool meals.

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New Construction Worker Safety Tips

Originally published 06/06/2018

New workers think differently than older, more experienced people in the workplace. They are typically inexperienced and may not be familiar with the job tasks or hazards on worksites or in workplaces. New workers are more willing to take unnecessary risks and possibly putting themselves into hazardous situations, without thinking they are, because they are eager to get the job done. They may be new to construction work altogether, and it may be the first job they’ve ever had. They may feel discouraged to ask questions for fear of appearing unknowledgeable to their coworkers and superiors.

It is important for a supervisor to provide new workers with constant interaction along with hands-on training until they are certified or deemed competent for the job at hand. Engaging them to ensure they feel valued and part of the team is also important. It allows them to feel comfortable sharing questions and concerns they may otherwise conceal out of fear of looking incompetent, leading to potential workplace accidents or injuries. Regular safety meetings are a way to keep new workers engaged and feeling like they are able to approach their supervisors with questions, concerns, or ideas they may have for the work they are expected to do.

Training is essential before any work begins. Start with a thorough orientation to the company, the safety rules, emergency procedures, and rights and responsibilities. Document the training, and possibly give a brief quiz at the end of orientation. When supplying workers with personal protective equipment, train them how to use it, educate them on the limitations and show them how to care for and maintain it. Before they can start any work, you must show them how to perform on a job safely. One of the best ways to train workers how to perform jobs safely is to have accurate, well-written safe work practices and safe job procedures. Have an experienced supervisor train them. Engage them by providing specific job-related safety training and specific job procedures for each task they are expected to perform. Train them on hazard recognition and control. One of the keys to safety is to know how to recognize and control hazards.

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Craft Training Schedules

Our union partners are releasing their 2019-2020 training schedules, and we’ll update this post as we receive them.

Carpenters Newburg & Paducah 2020 Enhancement Schedule

Carpenters Merrillville 2020 Upgrade Schedule

Carpenters Lafayette 2020 Upgrade Schedule

Indiana Laborers 2019-2020 Winter Training Schedule

Operators 103 2019-2020 Apprenticeship Training Schedule

Operators 150 2019-2020 Training Catalog

Operators 181 2019-2020 Training Schedule

Operators 841 2019-2020 Training Schedule

Bloodborne Pathogens

Originally published 02/28/2017

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious materials in blood that can cause disease in humans including: hepatitis B and C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Workers exposed to these pathogens risk serious illness or death.

Pathogens may be acquired through a single exposure. Medical experts agree that exposure occurs by contact with any body fluid that is contaminated with blood or blood components, including saliva and a variety of other body fluids. Some people are concerned that normal physical contact can transmit exposure, but experts deny this. The risk of exposure to a bloodborne pathogen is highest when body fluid contaminated with blood is ingested, inhaled or absorbed by another person. The occupational risk is for specific work assignments that may expose individuals to unknown body fluids. Since you can’t determine by sight if fluids are contaminated with blood, you must assume that pathogens may be present and take precautions.

Construction industry employers should consider developing and documenting the following:

  • For each construction jobsite and/or operation:
    • Identify the processes or procedures where exposure to bloodborne pathogens could occur. (For example: injuries could occur during a paving operation, a grading operation, an excavating operation, etc.)
    • Develop a strategy to: (1) control, minimize or eliminate those injury hazards; and (2) reduce the risk of employee exposure to bloodborne pathogens when accidents and injuries occur.
  • Strategies used by many contractors include:
  • Designate and train a person to be the “first responder” in handling emergency situations on the jobsite;
  • Train employees on how to respond to accidents and injuries;
  • Provide ready access to personal protective equipment on the jobsite including: gloves, eye protection such as goggles or glasses with side shields, resuscitation mouth pieces and first aid kits;
  • Routinely inspect, maintain and re-stock personal protective equipment and document your actions;
  • Routine and regular jobsite housekeeping;
  • Administer the hepatitis B vaccine to employees with the potential for exposure;
  • Arrange for a physician’s post-exposure evaluation (follow-up medical care) to any employee exposed to bloodborne pathogens;
  • Designate an area or areas on the jobsite for employees to eat and take breaks away from the hazard areas;
  • Provide antibacterial cleansers, soap, and where possible, hand washing areas on the jobsite; and
  • Provide red plastic bags (labeled “biohazard”) to store contaminated clothing and bandages should an accident occur.

The potential exists every day for exposure to a bloodborne pathogen on a construction jobsite. Plan for the possibility and protect yourself and your co-workers.

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