RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- With the heat index creeping near and past 100 degrees in recent days, outdoor construction workers are doing all they can to stay safe in the heat.
"We did tell them before starting work to drink more water and every hour take a 5-minute break, drink more water. And if they start feeling bad or dehydrated, stop working, come down and we'll see what we need to do," said safety coordinator Jorge Garcia.
Garcia's job is to keep the men and women who are working on the parking deck, apartment building and hotel at Seaboard Station safe and free from harm.
Clancy and Theys, the construction company of record, plans to be done with the project in the spring of 2024.
"For some of the trades, like the guys working on the roof, we're going to start earlier," said Garcia. "That way they can leave early and not be right in the middle of all the heat. You know the temperature is going to be high, so roofers will be leaving maybe around 2. They are having a tent on the roof to cool down (and) drink some water."
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The National Oceanic Atmospheric Association declared Tuesday the hottest day ever on record.
For the Seaboard Station project, crews are told to take more frequent breaks and hydrate more often as a way to beat the heat and stay cool.
"It does have an impact on the project schedule. But we basically make it up by working on weekends, working longer hours," said project manager Phil Renfroe. "For the roofing crews we're going to bring them in earlier in the morning and try to get a lot of the work done before it gets hot in the middle of the day."
NC Department of Labor said there have been no heat-related fatalities in the construction industry in 2022 or 2023. However, the group could not specify how many problems heat has caused for construction workers.
"It's hard to provide information on 'injuries' related to heat-stress, simply because employers are only required to report fatalities, hospitalizations, and certain other injuries to NCDOL," the agency said in a statement to ABC11. "For context though, since May 1, 2022 (the unofficial start to warm weather), the Complaint Desk received 15 complaints related to heat issues in the Construction industry. Those complaints typically covered things like poor ventilation, working in hot conditions, no breaks or access to water, first aid, etc."
According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, OSHA does not have an occupational safety standard for heat.
However, NCDOL encourages workers in extreme heat to:
- Avoid heavy exertion
- Avoid direct and extreme sun exposure
- Avoid high humidity
- Wear loose-fitted, light-colored, breathable clothing
- Stay hydrated
- Schedule heavy work in early parts of the day
"We also instruct them in all our toolbox meetings about how to recognize heat exhaustion and tell them take the extra breaks when they need to go to the water station and get some water so they don't be overcome," said Renfroe.