Construction workers at high risk during heat wave

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Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 4:35 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Installing a roof is a tough job, but doing it in the summertime is even tougher.

Experts say construction workers are at the highest risk for heat related illnesses.

Jeff Head, owner of Head’s Construction, says there’s only one word to describe roofing in a heat wave... miserable!

As a professional roofer, Head says the black asphalt shingles absorb heat, causing more heat to radiate around the roofer installing it.

He says the white surfaces are just as bad because those radiate UV.

“Many of times we have taken a thermometer, a laser thermometer, and we have put it on those shingles, and they will get anywhere from 150 to 160 degrees easy because that asphalt gets hot, and it can melt... and it is... it will blister. It gets so hot it can blister your hands,” said Head.

Head says the best way to still get the job done is to get an early start.

“Go at it 5:30 or six o’clock in the morning, work until maybe ten or noon, and then a lot of times we’ll come back in the evening time when the sun sets and maybe finish it up,” said Head. “But, when it gets two or three o’clock in the middle of the day, you cannot be up here. I’ve had guys that have tried that and I’ve had one that had a heat stroke before and couldn’t make it down on the ladder because they got so hot.”

Head is keeping jugs of water stocked for his crews, cold wet rags to put around their necks, and he says his workers find it easiest to wear long sleeve shirts and wide brim hats.

But, some days he says it’s just best to not risk the heat.

“You can die because of this thing here,” said Head. “So yeah, if it gets too hot where you can’t do it and it’s going to damage the workers or the material, we’ll throw a tarp over it and come back when it cools off.”

Head says the most important thing for all construction workers to remember on hot days is to stay hydrated and work smart.

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