The Australian summer is getting hotter with the passing of each year. This has a deep impact on construction workers, especially those working on unsheltered scaffolding structures from great heights. Well, as scaffold workers are already working in a dangerous setting, the heat can have shocking consequences because it ruthlessly affects worker safety, performance and competence.
Thus, it’s imperative that contractors apply appropriate control measures to deal with heat properly so their employees remain safe while working on aluminium mobile towers or kwikstage scaffolding and can continue working without any unpleasant health effects. Usually, scaffold workers are physically fit and get used to the heat, it’s still vital that they are trained in dealing with heat and follow the right work processes.
Here are Some of the Best Tips to Minimise the Risk of Personal Heat-stress and Handle Hydration on Hot Summer Days.
The following summarises the type of heat-stress disorders that differ from small to life-threatening discomforts that can be felt by workers in a hot environment.
Tiredness Caused Due To Heat
When the body is unable to maintain regular blood flow to key organs and delivers blood to the skin to lower body temperature, tiredness is experienced by the workers due to heat. Warning signs include vomiting, headache, nausea, weakness, fainting and breathlessness.
Heat stroke takes place when body temperature rises to critical levels and the body can no longer cool itself. Signs include loss of consciousness, irrational behaviour, convulsions, confusion, abnormally high body temperatures and lack of sweating.
Heat cramps are experienced by workers in extreme conditions where the body loses too much salt due to extreme sweating. Signs include painful lumps within muscles and muscle spasms.
Heat rash is also known as prickly heat and is the most familiar problem experienced in hot working atmospheres. Signs include a prickling sensation on the skin when sweating, red blotches and itchiness.
Imparting Education to Workers
To shield these heat-stress disorders and dehydration, it’s vital that workers are trained well in the symptoms and in the right techniques that are used to tackle hydration. For example, lack of fluids is a late indicator of dehydration where the body has already reached 2% dehydration and workers may experience a drop in alertness, reaction times, concentration and an increased heart rate.
Dehydration at 3% is equivalent to blowing 0.08 on a breathalyser and has a significant impact on cognitive capabilities. Similarly, when the individual is at 4% dehydration, it checks co-ordination and reaction times, and when dehydration reaches 15%, it may cause a person’s death.
Well, management should put into practice the following control measures to lower the dangers of working in a hot environment.
- Formulate extra allowance for employees wearing PPE or equipment that holds heat and limits sweat loss.
- Maximise movement of the air by providing fans wherever feasible.
- Facilitate sufficient cool drinking water (i.e. not cold water, but just naturally cool water).
- If possible, organise work to be executed in the cooler parts of the day.
- Provide employees with recurrent breaks in a cool environment (around 25 degree Celsius).
Moreover, the workforce has a responsibility to take measures to lower the dangers of heat-stress confusions and uphold hydration. These measures include the following:
- Always carry a drink bottle.
- Know the impact of pre-existing medical conditions (overweight, excessive alcohol consumption) on the vulnerability of heat-stress.
- Refrain from eating hot, heavy meals which increases your internal body temperature and diverts blood flow away from the skin.
- Avoid coffee, tea, and beer that can dehydrate the body and make you pass urine more often.
- Preserve energy and change electrolytes with consistent meal breaks.
- Wear light-coloured clothes that allow sweat evaporation.
- Keep yourself sufficiently hydrated before work commencement.
- Don’t wait till you’re thirsty; instead, drink a small quantity of water (around 250 ml) every half an hour.
Adequate rest and sleep are required to uphold energy levels because exhaustion speeds up heat-stress disorders. A simple blunder made due to dehydration on the ordinary ground can be risk-free; however, it would have serious outcomes on a scaffolding platform.