Protecting Employees from Equipment Heat Stress

Author: Rene Garcia


Construction sites can be some of the most hazardous work spaces for employees, but also for equipment and construction materials. High temperatures obviously add extra strain on the workforce, but it’s less visible on construction machinery that is accustomed to performing difficult tasks, like heavy lifting and towing. Materials can also behave unexpectedly, possibly creating a dangerous situation in the future. But with common sense planning, your investment can be protected and help avoid any injuries due to mechanical or material breakdown during the summer.

Caring for Construction Employees and Equipment in the Summer

The first obvious caution that construction sites need to take is ensuring that equipment doesn’t overheat when seasonal temperatures rise. Check for proper coolant levels regularly. Also make that hydraulics systems have the right levels of oil. Furthermore, normalization may occur during cooler weather where workers push machinery beyond their normal limit. This practice should be curbed immediately before summer weather where machines are already stressed due to heat.

Environmental exposure can weaken elasticity of seals. While heat is a common cause for this, UV rays can also contribute to the damage. One way to combat this is by storing machines in a garage or by parking equipment beneath shade. Scheduling can also help reduce strain on equipment. Consider limiting use of machinery to non-peak hours, which are typically outside of 10am and 3pm. Finally, make sure to turn off equipment when not immediately needed. This will give equipment time to cool off and save energy.

Construction material will also suffer in performance during hot weather. For example, mortar needs moderate temperatures to set properly, but too much dry heat can remove necessary moisture too quickly, preventing the mortar from bonding with the brick. The longevity of the masonry will be impacted, possibly causing an injury in the future. As such, workers should mix less mortar at a time, use it quickly, and keep it out of the sun.

Similar issues occur for concrete in that heat will hinder curing. Construction workers should employ “fogging” to maintain moisture around the pour. In more severe cases, the pour should be rescheduled to non-peak hours when temperatures are within tolerance.

Spring is usually the time when construction work begins to rise, which is line with temperatures. Severe cold can have just as adverse effects on equipment, materials, and employees as heat does. But as summer weather approaches, it’s important to have a plan and install processes to protect everyone and everything at the construction site, including productivity!

Looking for a Construction Company that won't Raise your Risk Profile?

Avetta can help you choose the right partners who are prepared for every potential hazard, including high temperatures. See which organizations are compliant and which ones might introduce unsafe conditions into your supply chain. 

Learn about our Supplier Prequalification Services today!

How is your organization handling it?

We're taking steps internally to ensure we can support you during this crisis by:

business continuity plan illustration

Maintain a current Business Continuity Plan

sanitized work environment illustration

Promote a safe, clean and sanitized work environment

Work from home illustration

Enable employees to work remotely

Office Distancing illustration

Institute Office Distancing policies

travel restriction illustration

No visitors to the office

travel restriction illustration

Encourage employees to self-educate using online resources (WHO)

travel restriction illustration

Restrict travel—all non-essential travel is forbidden

To learn more, we encourage you to visit our COVID-19 Resource Library.

Visit Resource Center