Protecting workers from brutal heat
By Ryan LaFontaine
AUSTIN—As Texas begins another summer with record-high temperatures, TxDOT is taking action to help protect employees who work in the sun.
Tim Mask, lead safety officer in TxDOT’s Dallas District, said the agency is constantly educating outdoor employees on the warning signs of dangerous heat exposure. In addition, TxDOT provides an entire catalog of products to help employees combat the heat. These include shade tents, special clothing designed to shield employees from the heat, cooling towels and more.
“Safety never stops, and TxDOT is delivering that message and providing the knowledge that employees need to prepare themselves for the task at hand,” Mask said. “The safety items available, from outerwear to electrolytes, help our teams to be better prepared for the day. And the most important thing of all is each person has the right to call a timeout if they are feeling or seeing something that isn’t right.”
TxDOT recommends employees in excessive heat drink at least eight ounces of water every 15-20 minutes. That’s two to three gallons of water per person during a typical workday.
“Our teams in the field should be having a hydration huddle every hour to check up on one another and hydrate with a bottle of water,” Mask said. “This also gives the team a moment to discuss the operation and any changes that may need to happen moving forward.”
TxDOT typically schedules work early in the morning, trying to beat the hottest parts of the day. If a situation becomes unsafe, the agency will immediately postpone work to protect employees.
“We try to plan our work around the temperatures by allowing crews to begin work earlier in the mornings,” Mask said. “This way they’re able to complete the operations before the hottest part of the day.”