During summertime, blazing temperatures and changing weather conditions make outdoor projects a challenge for construction companies. General contractors and subcontractors have to protect the health and safety of their workers in the heat. Additionally, they must account for severe storms that can cause significant damage.
Check out these four tips you can use to manage an efficient, well-run project during the summer.
1. Create a Construction Plan with Clear Expectations
Before you start work, it’s important to create a clear timeline and schedule for your project. Identify your expectations from subcontractors and specific project goals. Your plans should also contain information that tells your crew how to handle emergencies and disasters during summer weather.
Great planning will ensure your employees stay safe on your site. Here are several tips to follow when creating your worksite protection plan.
• Emergency and Disaster Response Plans: Outline what procedures your crew should follow if a worst-case scenario takes place. For instance, what should your crew members do if severe weather hits? Where should they shelter? If someone suffers from a heat-related illness, what protocols should your company follow?
• An Official Point Person and Onsite-Administrator: It’s important to name a point person who performs headcounts during emergencies. Additionally, you can assign a manager to hold workers accountable for failing to follow the correct protocols during an emergency.
• An Official Work Schedule: Create a clear schedule for your construction crew to follow. If possible, finish your heaviest workload during the morning or early evening hours to avoid the searing daytime heat. Does your project have a combination of indoor and outdoor projects? Schedule your exterior work for the coolest part of the day, then return inside during the warmest hours.
2. Hire and Train Your Work Crew Early
Oftentimes, worksites hire seasonal crew members to help them finish construction projects they must complete during the summer months. These new employees generally lack the experience of other trained construction workers. Many don’t know to follow OSHA regulations and other safety requirements to stay safe on the job. When they fail to follow the proper protocol, it can lead to accidents and on-the-job injuries.
General contractors can avoid this by starting the screening process early for new employees. Through tools like PlanHub, you’ll be able to identify skilled employees who can join your work crew with minimal training. Your company can also ensure that inexperienced workers get the necessary training to comply with OSHA guidelines and keep your work crew safe and that your costs stay on-budget.
3. Allow Your Crew to Take Frequent Water Breaks
Train your workers to recognize signs of heat-related illnesses in your workers. Typical signs of heat exhaustion include:
• Dizziness, fatigue, and fainting
• Heavy sweating
• Low-blood pressure
• Muscle cramps
• Nausea and vomiting
• Cool skin with goosebumps
• Weak, rapid pulse
OSHA recommends water, rest, and shade to decrease the potential of heat illness. Your company can take steps to ensure your employees have enough to drink.
First, keep ice water stations throughout your worksite, so your workers don’t have to walk far to access water. Ask your employees to sip hydrating beverages every 15 to 20 minutes. Additionally, keep wet towels that workers can use to cool down their skin.
In addition to water stations, allow your workers to take scheduled rests in a shady place, preferably under an awning or tent you have set up. If possible, run an industrial-grade fan to help your workers cool down.
4. Buy Weather-Ready PPE for Your Construction Crew
Ensure your crew has the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect from worksite hazards and hot temperatures. There are several types of PPE gear you can consider:
• Mesh safety vests
• Hardhats with nape protection
• Cooling headbands, vests, and bandannas
• Hardhats with sweatbands.