For those of us who reside in Florida, the heat is a well-known safety factor when it comes to roofing and construction. And with rising temperatures nationwide (and globally), the need for taking proactive safety measures has never been more apparent.
According to NOAA’s 2020 Annual Climate Report, the combined land and ocean temperature on the planet has increased at an average rate of 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit (0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880; looking at more recent decades, the average rate of increase since 1981 has been more than twice that rate (0.18°C / 0.32°F). While that may not appear to be much, even just the slightest increase in overall global temperature can lead to record heat, heat waves and extreme weather events, all of which have been on the rise.
Scientists have concerns and confidence in that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.
Currently, we are facing the start of summer, and according to Weather.com, temperatures will reach above average for the season across the U.S. A hotter than average June through August is expected from the West Coast to the Mississippi Valley and western Great Lakes. The northern and central Rockies into the northern and central Plains have the best chance for a hot summer, with the East and Southeast expected to be near or slightly warmer than average.
So, with all this talk of high temperatures, what can you do to ensure the safety of your team and crew members? Here are a few tips and resources to help you take the appropriate steps to prepare your crews for the increased temperatures ahead:
Train Your Team
It is the responsibility of the employer to train all team members and workers on heat hazards, signs of heat exhaustion and illness, as well as first aid. A good place to start is to check out OSHA’s resource for recognizing heat-related illness. You may also choose to run a team training series and hire a professional like Brauner Safety Services to design and implement a safety program to keep everyone up-to-date and heat-ready. Whatever method you choose, make sure that the training is provided in multiple languages to meet the needs of your crews and keep them safe and informed.
Timing is Everything
Keep in mind the 20% Rule – The rule states than no more than 20 percent of the duration of a new worker’s shift should be at full intensity in the heat. As they become more accustomed to the heat, the duration of time at full intensity should be increased by no more than 20 percent per day until fully acclimated.
Another way to provide limited time in the heat is to stagger crews on site throughout the day, alternate crew members from interior and exterior areas of the project and follow “Water. Rest. Shade”. According to OSHA, “Water. Rest. Shade” means that workers should drink one cup of water every 20 minutes while working in the heat to stay hydrated. In higher temperatures it should be standard practice for workers to take frequent rest breaks in shaded, cool, or air-conditioned areas to recover from the heat.
Know Your Resources
OSHA has a full website dedicated to resources that keep employers informed, as well as provide tools to educate their employees about heat hazards and safety measures. In 2011, OSHA launched a comprehensive campaign to prevent illness and fatalities caused by exposure to high temperatures on the job. You can learn more about OSHA’s campaign to prevent heat illness by visiting the heat exposure section of their website, as well as find a library of helpful (and printable) resources in English and Spanish.
To learn more about workplace safety and have a customized safety plan and training program developed to meet your needs, contact Brauner Safety Services.