Construction Best Practices

Hot Tips: How Contractors are Beating the Summer Heat


Did you know that there were 285 heat related deaths in the construction industry between 1992 and 2016?

Construction work during the hot summer months is no joke! Standing out in the sun, operating equipment in the heat— it’s not a job everyone can do. According to the CDC, 285 construction workers passed away from heat related illness between 1992 and 2016. That accounts for one third of occupational heat related deaths in those 24 years.

Working on a construction site during the heat of the summer can be brutal. This is especially true for heavy highway contractors, where materials like concrete and asphalt can reach temperatures of 300°F or more. With safety being one of the biggest issues in construction, contractors are well aware that their workers are often at increased risk for heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion, heat rashes and/or cramps, fainting, heat stroke and other conditions.

So you may be wondering, how do contractors stay cool during the summer months? Well we asked our customers that exact question. Here are a few of their answers:

Tri-City Electric Co. staying cool with ice cream!

Sound Advice

“We bring in ice cream trucks and treat all of the employees to whatever they want.”

—Natalie W., Tri-City Electric Co.

“Magnetic umbrellas and frequent breaks.”

—Audrey H., Icon Mechanical

“We give our field guys moisture wicking headbands to put in their hard hats. Emphasize them staying hydrated, taking more breaks during the summer and finding a cooler area for those breaks.”

—Myron B., Hatzel and Buehler

SDB, Inc. staying cool with an escape room!

“At the office we try to plan indoor activities. For Team building most recently we went to an escape room, nice and cool and working together as a team!!”

—Erin W., SDB, Inc.

“Start early and end early. Check on your co-workers frequently. Stay hydrated.”

—Mary S., Duggan Contracting Corporation

“Stay hydrated with electrolytes and moisture wicking bandanas to pull sweat from the skin.” 

—Andy G., Rummel Construction Inc.

Drinking water is key on hot days!

“During the really hot months of summer, we adjust the schedules of the crews to start as early as possible in the morning, like 3 or 4am. We also provide plenty of ice and water for them to stay cool. Our Toolbox Talks focus on Heat Safety and how to identify heat stroke, or heat illness. We also provide cooling pads for their hard hats. Some guys wear long sleeves, and long liners in their hard hats to prevent sunburn.”

Ann H., Marsh Creek Concrete

“Through the distribution and discussions of OSHA quick cards for Protecting Workers from Heat Stress. These cards help explain the risk factors, symptoms and prevention of heat related illnesses.”

—Lars S., Cal's Electrical Service Inc.

Cool Tech to Track Heat and Other Safety Issues

Tracking safety issues and ensuring compliance is key for any contractor. Thankfully, today’s connected construction technologies are making it easier to do so by providing real-time updates, digital forms and checklists and more.

Additionally, more and more tech-forward equipment, wearables and applications are providing real-time tools to monitor everything from exertion to excessive heart rates and more, giving construction professionals an extra edge in preventing heat-related issues.

OSHA, for instance, has a free app for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their jobsites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level.

Tell Us Your Own Stories

What great ways to stay cool while working out in the heat! How do you and your team stay cool during the hot summer months? Share this blog with your social networks and let us know!

Stay safe and stay cool out there this summer!

Posted By

Kati is an Associate Manager of Customer Advocacy at Trimble Viewpoint, enthusiastic about all things marketing and construction.