Words: MASONRY Magazine
Editor’s note: With summer around the corner and construction getting back into full swing, we thought we should do a follow up to last year’s warm weather Q&A. This month, we had the opportunity to chat with the Corporate Safety director of Brazos Masonry in Waco, Texas, Zach Everett. Zach served as the Safety Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America and provided insight into being safe on a
Masonry Magazine: What is the best way to treat or prevent a person who is overheating on a jobsite?
Zach Everett: Prevention, of course, is the best thing to do. Drinking water, getting rest and staying in the shade are ways to do so. Water keeps you hydrated, shade and rest cools you down. If someone is already too hot, take them to a cool place, remove any unnecessary clothing, and give them water. There is a fine line when someone overheats and in some cases, you don’t have to call the ambulance every single time but action needs to happen very quickly to ensure the person does not have a heat stroke or that the stress is so bad it can cause brain damage.
The whole thing about strokes is the blood in your brain gets too hot and starts causing damage to the organ, so the rest and shade keeps the blood and body temperature down to where it does not cause damage to the brain.
M.M.: What type of workwear or PPE is worn during the warmer seasons?
Z.E.: Some people utilize cooling towels or cooling cloths. You get them wet and they are supposed to retain some moisture and you can put them around your neck. Usually, they keep you cool, that is the only kind of PPE that you can wear that will directly cool you down. Contractors can be thoughtful of the color of clothing they were, the darker the color the more heat is conducted, and if you wear lighter colors you will feel cooler. A lot of people will wear a thin light shirt but with long sleeves so that it keeps you cool. They are selling hard hats now that are vented so they keep the top of your head cooler than the traditional hard hats. Overdressing is probably the main thing to avoid in the summertime. Wearing long sleeves is one thing but wearing several layers exasperates the concept.
M.M.: What other safety precautions should mason contractors take into consideration when working in the heat?
Z.E.: Always have water, going back to the water, rest and shade. Make sure those things are easy to do. Mason contractors usually work on a scaffold. So, keep putting water up on the scaffold so the workers have easy access to water. Supplying breaks mid-morning and mid-afternoon are nice so workers can rest and have water, and be in the shade. Usually with scaffolding you can put a ply-wood canopy above. This is usually used for protection against things falling, but they can serve as a shade as well. We’ve done that before on a jobsite.
M.M.: Do you have any advice for masons who work in warmer temperatures?
Z.E.: There are a lot of people are starting to utilize individual water bottles on a jobsite that way they can take the water bottle back to their respective work area and take a drink at any time without having to put down their trowel and walk away from their work station. It makes water a little more accessible, which is good because it’s said you’re supposed to drink about eight ounces of water every 15 minutes and if you have a water cooler away from you, there is the possibility of drinking too much water too fast in one sitting and then go without drinking water for a longer period of time.