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Heat-related construction deaths rise with temperatures

Extreme weather set record-high temperatures in June and July this year. Much of the country experienced temperatures approaching or above triple digits. This heat wave, in addition to changing the climate and causing ice melts, also joined construction negligence as causing construction fatalities.

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study on heat-related deaths. It found that 36.8 percent of all heat-related fatalities in this country took place in the construction industry. Heat played a role in more incidents of illnesses associated with higher temperatures, such as heat stroke.

There were several culprits for these escalating figures. One expert cited construction materials which need time to cool off before being installed. Use of prefabricated materials, however, allows a lot of work to be performed in a climate-controlled environment and may reduce this problem.

Another expert claimed that lifestyle also increases the effects of hot weather. The popularity of energy drinks was cited as increasing dehydration. New construction workers that began this work after the recession ended may not be used to working in the heat because they did not have to perform their other jobs outdoors.

Employers must provide more scrutiny to their workers' health on construction sites. They should provide more breaks, shade and water. Shifting hours to night-time, when the temperature is cooler, may also provide more safety.

Contractors must also engage in planning based upon seasonal forecasts. In addition to posing a threat to workers, weather can also cause delays that add costs to expenses such as leased equipment, contractual penalties and labor expenses.

Families who suffer the loss of a loved one from a work-related accident or illness may be entitled to compensation or damages. An attorney may able to assist them with the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit.

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