Kamloops construction workers adjusting to heatwave with shorter days, earlier shifts July 11, 2024

Source: Castanet https://www.castanetkamloops.net/news/Kamloops/496589/Kamloops-construction-workers-adjusting-to-heatwave-with-shorter-days-earlier-shifts#496589

Photo credit: Michael Potestio

Lots of water and breaks — that’s how Braydon Gough is beating the heat at his construction job in downtown Kamloops.

The landscaping subcontractor is one of many workers having to endure temperatures in the upper-30s amid a heatwave that has been broiling the Kamloops area since the weekend.

Gough, who’s worked at the site of Trillium Tower, the 24-storey Kelson Group tower going up on Nicola Street, said the higher temperatures make a big difference.

Gough said his boss has advised them to take longer breaks, seek shade and stay hydrated.

“We don’t rush ourselves too hard because it’s dangerous in this heat,” Gough said.

Construction workers have had shorter days and earlier hours to avoid spending too much time in the extreme heat.

Hours altered for many workers

Kelson Group site safety officer Jennifer Cleveland told Castanet Kamloops about 80 per cent of the workforce on site is working short or earlier hours. She said workers are typically on site between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

“We have a pretty minimum group of people staying,” Cleveland said.

Protocols for working in the heat include having tented areas for shade on site, as well as water station and fans located in the parkade to cool off.

Cleveland said there’s also free sunscreen offered at the job site, foremen are expected to check in on their workers continuously and workers are advised to drink a cup of water every 20 minutes.

She said they had a safety meeting last Friday, ahead of the heat wave, warning about the signs of heat stress — excessive sweating, cramping, fatigue and headaches and shallow breathing.

Cleveland said there has been no heat-related incidents on the site yet this year.

‘Just got to be careful’

Drew Atkinson, partner with Wrabel Brothers Construction, said the heatwave has definitely impacted his business.

The general contractor is not having employees work full days during the heat wave.

Atkinson said Wrabel Brothers employs about 35 people and, since Monday, 75 to 80 per cent have been working six-hour days to avoid potential exhaustion.

“We also have a lot of guys that are used to the heat, so we almost have to force them to go home,” he joked.

He said Wrabel Brothers also has protocols in place to have workers take more breaks, drink plenty of water and keep an eye out on younger colleagues who don’t have as much experience in the heat.

“Just got to be careful,” Atkinson said. “The biggest thing is be aware, because it sneaks up on you. People don’t realize that how quickly that heat exhaustion can hit you.”

Heat exhaustion is preventable

Suzana Prpic, director of prevention field services at WorkSafe BC, said the organization asks that site supervisors develop safe work procedures.

“We want that supervisor to engage with workers, have a discussion about the work being done, talk about the heat, establish those cooling areas with shade and water, appropriate work rest cycles — all of this should happen before the work starts,” Prpic said.

She said WorkSafe BC also recommends workers drink one glass of water every 20 minutes, wear light coloured and loose fitting clothing, wear sunscreen and take rest breaks on the job site during times of extreme heat.

“We don’t want anyone to feel sick, because this is completely preventable,” she said.

She said workers have a right to refuse unsafe work and if any concerns are not addressed by site supervisors, WorkSafe BC can be contacted at 1-604-276-3100 or 1-888-621-7233.

Author: Mandy Curtis Post Date: July 11, 2024

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