The construction industry is the third most dangerous profession in the United States, claiming close to 800 lives each year and resulting in thousands of serious injuries. Changes in the weather from spring to summer bring even more safety concerns to these workers. The risk of serious injury for construction workers increases as the warmer weather arrives. As temperatures rise between May and September, so do the number of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry.
The most common types of warm weather hazards include:
- Dangerous weather conditions: Weather patterns vary across the country, but the spring and summer months are notorious for severe weather, including tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes, hailstorms, and high winds. Construction workers exposed to these weather conditions risk electrocution, slip and falls from slippery and high surfaces, and getting hit with flying debris.
- Flooding: When warmer temperatures bring sudden weather changes, the risk for flooding increases. Construction workers face the risk of serious and fatal injuries when flooding impedes their ability to get to higher ground or under cover.
- Exposure to high heat and humidity: Summer temperatures have been on the rise in recent years, leaving construction workers prone to dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion, which all raise the risk for accidents to happen. Workers suffering from heat-related illnesses can quickly become disoriented, dizzy, and faint.
- Unstable work surfaces: Heavy rain, high winds, and high temperatures can quickly make soil unstable and surface areas slick and slippery. Collapses in trenches and falls from slippery surfaces can have catastrophic consequences for construction workers.
Preventing Warm Weather Construction Accidents
Even though the warm temperatures and weather conditions in spring and summer bring increased risks to construction workers, many accidents and heat-related illnesses can be prevented.
- Drink plenty of fluids in hot weather but avoid caffeinated drinks, which can increase the risk of dehydration.
- Take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned area when working in direct sunlight, high temperatures, or high humidity.
- Layer clothing to provide warmth in the early morning, but can be removed as temperatures climb throughout the day as well.
- All construction workers should be trained to recognize the symptoms of heat-related injuries and illnesses, and how to provide first aid to victims.
- Seek immediate shelter when weather conditions become threatening, especially when lightning and high winds are present.
Suffering a Heat-Related Illness or Injury
Anyone that shows signs of a heat emergency, such as weakness, confusion, profuse or absent sweating, or loss of consciousness should receive immediate first aid. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are life threatening conditions that require immediate attention.
It is recommended to move the worker to a shaded or air-conditioned area immediately. Remove heavy clothing and give the victim water, if they can drink. Soak wet towels in cool water and apply to the skin. Call 911 to the scene to evaluate the seriousness of the situation and remain with the victim until help arrives.
South Jersey Construction Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Advocate for Construction Worker Safety
If you are a construction worker that has been injured on the job, the South Jersey construction accidents lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm can help. Call us at 609-926-3300 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Atlantic City.