To create safer job sites, it’s important for construction workers and employers in Connecticut to understand the dangers of working outdoors during summer. The top five hazards are fatigue, heat-related illness, dehydration, sun exposure and cars in roadside construction zones.
Heat-related illnesses include heat rash and heatstroke. Extended sun exposure can lead to sunburns in the short term and skin cancer in the long run. Of course, extreme heat will also lead to more fatigue. This can make workers listless, slow to react and more prone to bad judgments. Roadside construction zones are often deadly, with NIOSH stating that nearly 100 workers die every year in them.
The first steps that employers should take are more or less obvious. It’s vital to provide workers with hydrating fluids. If workers are not attracted to the water, add a lemon or purchase Gatorade and other electrolytic beverages. Next, mandate rest breaks in a shaded area. Use canopies and umbrellas wherever possible.
Personal protective equipment is important as are hats and sunscreen. Workers should be cycled in and out for arduous tasks. If possible, employers can modify shifts so that employees are working primarily in the early mornings and at night. Training is a must. For example, workers should be trained to identify the signs of heat-related illness. Reduced speed limits and barriers are essential in construction zones.
In the event that someone is injured, employers may have to face a workers’ compensation claim. For their part, an injured worker may want a lawyer on their case. Filing this claim is not as complicated as filing a personal injury claim, but employers retain the right to deny payment under certain circumstances. This means that a worker may need to mount an appeal. Workers’ compensation covers medical expenses and includes wage replacement.