By Lonnie Fritz, Senior Market Professional – Construction Industries, Caterpillar Inc.
There’s a lot to love about summer: warm temps, plenty of sunshine, long days and your choice of outdoor activities. But on the jobsite, summer’s advantages can quickly turn into disadvantages. Heat-related illness is real, common and can lead to severe complications or even death. Hotter temperatures also cause machines to work harder, stressing components and accelerating wear. How can you keep your people and your fleet safe this summer? Start here:
5 ways to protect your team (and yourself)
- Eat and drink right. Don’t skip meals or overeat. Your best bet is to eat lighter (no heavy, greasy foods) during the hottest part of the day and aim for eight ounces of cool water every hour.
- Dress properly. Wear lightweight, light-colored, moisture-wicking clothes — and don’t forget to put on sunscreen and sunglasses.
- Pay attention to your body. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, tell someone and find a cool, shady spot to rest. Refrain from going in and out of the air-conditioning, which puts more strain on the body. If possible, adjust working hours to the coolest part of the day or to nighttime hours.
- Know the signs. Heat exhaustion (fatigue, disorientation, nausea, headache, rapid heart rate and clammy skin) can quickly escalate to heat stroke (elevated body temperature, loss of consciousness, convulsions, vomiting and diarrhea). Learn to recognize the signs in yourself and others.
- Keep an eye on your coworkers. Victims of heat exhaustion or stroke aren’t always aware of what’s happening, so if you see someone struggling, alert a supervisor and call 911 if necessary. Pay special attention to those who are 65 and older, overweight or on medication.
5 ways to protect your machines
- Beef up inspections. Check hydraulic fluid level, engine oil level, coolant level, radiator cap seal and pressure, hoses, air conditioning, tires and tire pressure every day. Use fluids and lubricants designed for your climate conditions.
- Clean it up. Remove debris from radiators, cooling systems and engine hood inlets and outlets daily.
- Talk technique. Encourage operators to shift smoothly, accelerate steadily, turn gradually, travel at controlled speeds and avoid spinning the wheels.
- Track temperatures and pressures. Telematics data can be a big help in monitoring equipment status, predicting potential problems and planning repairs before failure.
- Shutdown and store machines correctly. Follow the manufacturers machine shutdown procedures to ensure the machine cools down before shutting off. Where possible, keep any machines not in use out of the sun in a dry, sheltered area.
During the summertime as we battle the heat and humidity, it’s also a good time to review personal hygiene practices on the jobsite and in the office. So in addition to the above, remember to wash your hands, keep common areas and machines sanitized and stay home if you’re sick. Summer’s a busy season for construction sites with no time for downtime. These safety tips will help keep your team and equipment healthy, safe and on the job.