Protecting Construction Equipment and Your Crew in Excessive Heat

Working in summer temperatures is a fact of life for most construction crews, but that does not mean you can ignore the heat and just work as you normally do. If you've just started managing a construction crew in a new region that gets hotter in summer than you're used to, you risk the health of your crew and the safety of the equipment if you try to work like you did back in your old city. Take the following steps to ensure everyone and everything remain OK in the heat.

Pay Attention to Heat Warnings

If the local weather service is reporting a heat warning, take a good look at your construction schedule. See what work you can move to earlier in the morning or later in the evening. While you'll still have to pay attention to local laws regarding construction noise and hours, it may be possible to move a lot of activity to cooler times so your crew can head inside during the middle of the day and the afternoon. If that's not possible, ensure your crew wears protective gear -- hats, neck shade, and so on -- and have them monitor each other for signs of heat illness.

Sports Drinks and Extended Breaks

Even if you can move most of the work to cooler hours, "cooler" is relative. Those cooler hours may still be very hot, so provide plenty of ice water, sports drinks, and watery foods like fruit to your workers. Also allow them to take more frequent or extended breaks to rest up.

Shade or Cover Equipment

Any equipment that isn't in current use should be shaded or covered. If the equipment operator is just on a break, have them move the equipment over to a shaded area to prevent the controls from becoming too hot. Equipment that is in use can still benefit from having covers placed over parts like door handles.

Turn off Everything That Isn't Being Used

Any equipment, be it heavy construction equipment or even just a radio, should be off if not being used. This helps prevent the engine or other controls from overheating, and it reduces wear on the engine or item.

Monitor Engine Temperature Readings

For those items that are in use, monitor the temperature readings. So, for items with motors or engines, you'd monitor the engine temperature; for items like small radios, you'd periodically test the radio to see if it's getting excessively hot. Anything that seems to be overheating needs to be shut down until it can cool off.

The manufacturers of the equipment you use will have further specific information about protecting each piece in excessive heat. For protecting workers, pay attention to weather reports and listen to their comments and complaints -- what normally seems like a minor inconvenience on a normal day can be amplified in the heat.