The risks of prolonged sun exposure are higher for outdoor workers due to the nature of their jobs, so it’s essential to take some safety measures—especially during summer. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States, more than 40% of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry. How do we evaluate the risks of sunny weather to protect these workers?

The Heat Index

The heat index is a chart used to determine the risk of heat-related illness for outdoor workers. There are four risk levels, each one with recommended safety measures:

  • Less than 91°F: Low risk level; requires basic heat safety and planning.
  • 91°F to 103°F: Moderate risk level; requires the implementation of precautions.
  • 103°F to 115°F: High risk level; requires additional safety measures to protect workers.
  • Greater than 115°F: Very high to extreme risk level; requires strong protective measures.

Low Risk Level

Talk to workers about the importance of wearing sunscreen and drinking water. Encourage them to drink water over soda because drinks containing caffeine may lead to dehydration. Plan safety training to educate everyone on the risks of prolonged sun exposure.

Moderate Risk Level

Emphasize the importance of drinking water often. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggests an average of 4 cups/hour. Make sure the workers are taking regular breaks in a cool or shaded area. Supervisors should monitor workers and watch for signs of heat-related illness.

High Risk Level

If possible, reschedule activities to a time when it’s not too hot outside. Alert workers of high risk conditions and enforce work/rest schedules. Use cooling equipment and techniques to help reduce the heat. Supervision is extremely important, so you need someone prepared to identify heat-related illness and implement preventive measures.

Very High to Extreme Risk Level

These weather conditions are very dangerous for your workers’ health. Reschedule non-essential tasks for days with a lower heat index. If possible, move essential activities to night shifts. Regular physiological monitoring is a must to ensure that everyone is healthy. Stop work if you can’t implement adequate safety measures.

At CREED LA, part of our mission is to ensure that the construction industry in Los Angeles supports projects that positively impact the community and considers local and environmental impacts. That’s why we support green building initiatives in Los Angeles and beyond. To find out more about how CREED LA is committed to a better LA, visit us online or call (877) 810-7473 today.