Summer Safety in the Building & Construction Industry

GMS_-_Savannah_022615_-_109At GMS, we take job safety seriously. We regularly implement safety practices as part of the GMS culture, hold weekly safety meetings, and GMS is always tuned to any changes in safety regulations.

During the summer, enforcing safety on the job becomes even more critical. High temperatures, prolonged exposure to the sun, and long work hours can add up to increased risks for employees working outdoors.

There are a number of steps that employers and jobsite managers can take to prevent injuries and illness during the summer, and any time of the year. One of the resources that GMS frequently refers to is Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), which provides numerous resources and educational materials on job safety.

In a 2013 study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20.2% of the 4,101 worker fatalities in private industry happened in the construction industry. Risk is an inherent part of working in the building and construction industry, and that is why we believe it is imperative that our employees receive education on the best safety practices.


What can you do to keep cool and stay safe while working in extreme temperatures? OSHA outlines a few simple practices that will keep your employees safe and well-rested.

  • Drink small amounts of cool water often: Hydration is an important part of summer safety – OSHA recommends that workers should drink one cup of water every 20 minutes.
  • Wear the right clothing: Make sure employees wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. This is one of the easiest ways to stay cool – all it takes is a change of clothes.
  • Take frequent rests: Reduce workloads and encourage more breaks in the shade, especially in intense heat. Save the heavy lifting and more intense physical labor for early mornings or evenings when temperatures have dropped.
  • Protect your skin: Heat-related illnesses are preventable. Take advantage of this fact by applying sunscreen and wearing a hat for additional sun protection.
  • Check up on your employees: Monitor your workers and look for signs of heat-related illnesses and take the appropriate measure if you suspect they aren’t well.
  • Watch the heat index: Knowing the day’s heat index can help you and your employees better prepare for a safe workday in the hot summer. OSHA’s guide to the heat index can be found here. On days that are 115°F and over, the risk level for workers is very high to extreme – be sure to take extra precautions to protect yourself and your workers. Remember: the heat index value increases by 15 degrees Fahrenheit when working in direct sunlight, so be sure to take that into account.
  • Get employees acclimated to the environment: OSHA defines acclimatization as: “a physical change that builds tolerance to the heat, can be done by gradually increasing workload for new and returning workers- and for everyone during a heat wave.” Start off with smaller amounts of work for newer employees to help protect them, as they may be more susceptible and at risk.

To view the entirety of OSHA’s safety tips for the summer, click here. Comment below and let us know what you do on the jobsite to keep your employees safe and cool.

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