The summer heat can be debilitating. Not only does the sun beat down, but heat also radiates up from the asphalt and any dark surfaces, creating what feels like an inferno. Yes, the temperature is uncomfortable, but it’s dangerous as well. Heat stroke and dehydration can quickly develop if you’re out in the sun, unprotected.
While most people can escape the heat by staying indoors, roofers can’t. The nature of this job involves working on the roof, often without any cover from the sun, for long hours. Unlike other outdoor jobs, roofing is particularly dangerous because one wrong move can result in a fall. Fatigue or illness from the heat only makes the risk of an accident even more significant.
However, with the proper preventative measures and knowledge, roofing contractors and their workers can take the appropriate steps to avoid serious injury, illness, or in the worst cases–death. Here are some proven methods to help roofers remain safe, even in the summer heat:
One of the first effects of excessive heat is dehydration. Especially when working hard on removing, repairing and replacing roofs, workers can quickly become dehydrated. Roofers should keep water easily accessible to drink while on the job.
How much water do they need? With 2.6 million sweat glands working to keep the body cool in the sun, roofers in working conditions need much more water than the average person under normal circumstances. While doctors recommend that you drink between 8-10 cups of water a day, in the sun, you will certainly need more. Drink up throughout the day and stay alert to signs of dehydration.
In the summer, workers should take breaks more often than during other seasons. Although they may think they can continue to power through, it’s best to take frequent breaks to prevent exhaustion from the heat. It’s easy to overestimate your strength in the sun, so plan breaks and follow through with taking them.
Some roofing companies implement a buddy system. With this system, each roofer is assigned a buddy to monitor. If anyone notices that their partner is being affected by the heat, they either suggest that the partner take a break or notify the supervisor. This system ensures that no one is forgotten.
The sun shines directly on many buildings and homes. In some cases, there are no trees or shade structures nearby a worksite. In these situations, roofing companies can set up canopies to protect workers while they rest.
Working in the blinding sun all day is exhausting and dangerous. However, a shade canopy makes it possible for relief when roofers take breaks or have lunch. Although the air temperature is technically the same in the sun or the shade, you’ll feel 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit cooler in the shade. Furthermore, when placing black shingles on a roof, heat radiates back up onto the roofers, making the temperature even more extreme. This means that relief in the form of a shade canopy is invaluable. Keep roofers safe by offering shady areas to rest.
Cooling Neck Towels
Roofers expose themselves to the worst the sun has to offer. Often hunched over; the sun beats down on their backs and necks. However, technology is here to the rescue! Roofers can make use of cooling neck towels to counteract the effects of the sun and heat. Usually, these towels also offer SPF protection. Soak them in cold water, wring them out, and then apply them to enjoy their cooling effects.
The most important way to keep roofers safe this summer is through education. When you know the signs of dehydration and heat illness, you can recognize it in yourself and others. Then, you can take action or get help.
So, what are the signs of dehydration?
- Darker urine (rather than pale yellow)
- Infrequent urination (less than usual)
And heat stroke? Many symptoms are similar to dehydration, but also include:
- Lack of sweating
- -Red, hot, dry skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Quicker breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
However, keep in mind that heat exhaustion, while not as severe as heat stroke, presents symptoms that are contrary. For example, someone with heat exhaustion may sweat profusely, while someone with heat stroke won’t sweat at all. So, remember that sweating and not sweating are both signs of heat illness.
In addition to knowing the signs of dehydration and heat stroke, roofing companies may consider offering their workers first aid and CPR classes. This way, fellow workers can begin treatment for these conditions before help arrives.
Yes, the summer heat can be brutal. However, it’s possible to keep roofers safe despite the extreme conditions. Do you have any tips for staying safe while working in the sun? Tell us about them in the comments below.