How Hot Does it Have to Get Before Road Crews Shut Down?
Grand Junction road construction crews on Orchard Mesa found themselves working in 104-degree heat last Tuesday afternoon. How hot does it have to get before crews can shut down and seek shade?
While the question may seem simple, the reality is a direct answer is hard to come by. It may be there is no concise answer. I ask this question out of concern for my fellow human beings.
The video above shows crews working on Grand Junction's 5th Street bridge on the way to Orchard Mesa. Just the other side of the bridge, the insurance company's sign reads "104 degrees as of 4;19 p.m."
I placed a call to CDOT on Tuesday morning. As it turns out, they did not know the answer to the question regarding road crews and tempeatures. As a matter of fact, they claim they've never been asked the question before.
Next stop - OSHA. What are the OSHA guidelines regarding road construction in triple digit temperatures? Ready for this? Apparently, there are no guidelines. It seems OSHA has no standards when it comes to working in hot environments.
Outdoor workers who are exposed to hot and humid conditions are at risk of heat-related illness. The risk of heat-related illness becomes greater as the weather gets hotter and more humid. This situation is particularly serious when hot weather arrives suddenly early in the season, before workers have had a chance to adapt to warm weather.
Of course, the outdoor air temperature alone is not enough to determine how bad work conditions are. The "heat index" is a value which takes into account both temperature and humidity. OSHA provides the following information regarding the "heat index."
It seems safe to say each construction company would have some guidelines regarding employees and extreme temperatures, hot or cold. Years ago, I received a call from a road construction worker saying it had to hit 110 degrees before their crews could shut down.
Kudos to the hardworking Western Colorado crews who continue busting their buns in the triple digit summer temps here in Grand Junction. It is my sincere hope some "ceiling" does exist with the various contractors regarding workers and temperatures.