YUMA, Ariz. – Project safety manager Fernando Sandez’s construction team started working at 3 o’clock in the morning to avoid intense heat during the middle of the day.
“It gets hot out here. Absolutely,” he said.
By at 11 a.m., temperatures were already well above the triple digit mark.
“Workers that have been working in the Southwest for a while – still always there’s a period of re-acclamation to that heat when it starts,” Sandez said.
The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety has kicked off a heat safety campaign, which serves as a reminder for outdoor workers to keep three things in mind.
“Water, rest and shade,” Sandez explained.
ADOSH assistant director Jessie Atencio explains how the crew at this construction site avoids heat related illnesses on a hot summer day.
“You’ll see there’s water in the background, people taking drinks and break areas,” Atencio said. “That’s really what we’re talking about with employers, encouraging them with their staff to have the dialogue, recognize signs and symptoms before they ever become an injury or an illness to the employees, and make sure they’re always talking about it. Never stop.”
He encouraged employers to give regular break periods in shaded areas with plentiful access to water. Atencio said all workers can file a complaint with ADOSH if they feel they are working in unsafe conditions.
“And part of that is saying, ‘hey if you don’t feel comfortable, if you don’t feel safe, you can stop the work activity until you feel better about it, or we discuss what’s going on,” he said.
Atencio recommended everyone check the heat index before working outside. ADOSH offers a heat stress app to measure that number, which you can download onto your smart phone.