While we all look at summertime as the time to kick back, go to the beach, enjoy a nice pop on the back deck, or even take a much-deserved vacation (after we’ve completed all our work, obviously), there are some risks that the heat brings in this industry. While some of these won’t surprise you, I just wanted to review some of the top risks we see in the construction field during the summer months and give some possible tips or solutions.
- Dust control and airborne particles. Now I know what you’re all thinking, E&S control is already a cornerstone of what we design for when it comes to almost every project. But you might not realize or consider that, depending on the time of construction, summer months produce such dry conditions that there is a noticeable increase in dust when operating heavy equipment. One of our main concerns related to E&S is ensuring it doesn’t negatively affect anyone within and outside our scope of work. One solution to this problem is increased use of water to minimize the dust particles in the air as well as more advanced methods of E&S control that may not be necessary during other seasons of the year.
- The planning of planting materials. We have all seen that seeding mix specifications note on the side of every plan we’ve ever created, but how much have you ever really wondered when the best time would be to stabilize a site? Well, I can tell you the summertime is trickier than ever to manage. Like dust control, properly stabilizing a site during the summer months requires a lot of planning. That is why most contractors tend to strategically schedule plantings so they fall during the fall months when rainfall and temperatures will promote better growth.
- Concrete is one of the most costly and volatile materials to handle during the summer. With such high temperatures, often multiple days in a row, there is a high risk that concrete will not cure evenly, thus reducing its overall strength and possibly reducing its useful life. While both are not ideal, nothing is considered worse than having to rip out large portions of concrete work due to improper curing. Some of the best ways to avoid this disastrous situation are through doing large pours during hours when the heat will not be a factor, usually in the middle of the night, placing summer blankets on top of the slabs to ensure they aren’t overexposed to the heat, or possibly utilizing a sprinkler system to ensure that slabs stay at their recommended temperature.
- Increased safety concerns due to heat risk and potential injuries. As I have said in this prompt, it is common to have much more strenuous conditions for workers during summer compared to spring or fall. There is an increased risk of sunburn, insect stings/bites, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. Now there is no specific way to avoid these things but some of the best practices are drinking plenty of water while out on site, using sunscreen whenever possible, and wearing gloves or other protective clothing.
- Unfortunately, the last major construction challenge is employee distractions. Like anyone else, we are all susceptible to this, especially those who find themselves dealing with these other four issues daily. There is really not much of a solution to this one, we all work hard to play hard, continue to enjoy life to the best of our ability, and at the end of the day, we’ve all been there with sweat dripping down our brow and the only thing on our mind is a cold pop on the deck. So, while it is important to get all your work done in a timely manner, enjoy those moments when you can as well.
Have a wonderful summer everyone. Whether on a resort island, a sunset cruise, or just a quick day trip to the Jersey shore, the more we enjoy these summer months, the better work that will be done during the fall season!