By Jenique Belgrave
With temperatures hitting 34 degrees Celsius and higher in recent weeks, some construction companies have made adjustments to ensure their workers stay safe in the scorching heat.
Head of Arthur Construction Inc. Haydn Arthur told Barbados TODAY the company had been advising its employees to take longer lunches and work later in the day.
“I have told the men that they need to work a little later and not between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. or 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., depending on how the wind is blowing, because then it is very hot, and I insist that they leave (the office) with water every morning so they will remain hydrated,” he said.
Arthur noted that workers have also been encouraged to wear long-sleeve shirts “as the heat can hit your arms and really scorch you”.
In addition, they have been told to keep the tools out of the sun as much as possible when not in operation to prevent burns.
“This heat is very serious. You have to let the workers stay out of the sun. Tell them to get a long lunch and put back in the time later in the day,” Arthur added.
He urged fellow contractors to take similar precautions as he expressed concern about employees of other construction companies working on high-rise buildings “40-50 feet up in the air” during the sun’s peak hours.
Marketing and Public Relations Manager at C.O. WIlliams Construction Sharon Carew-White said the company continued to execute its normal operations in ensuring its employees were hydrated, with minor adjustments being made to clothing.
“[In] general day-to-day operations, more or less we have further executed what we normally do. We already have coolers at every job site with ice and water, and we try to refill as often as possible now, which is now two to three times a day, when before a cooler would have lasted an entire day,” she said.
In addition, Carew-White highlighted that while long-sleeve shirts continued to be provided as a protective layer from the sun while on the job, breathable hats have also been sourced.
“I have also tried to get them very breathable headpieces so the hats that you see have the ventilation to the top and then a shield on the neck, so that protective gear is what we have put in place for the staff so that it is a little more tolerable,” she said.
Highlighting that several of C.O Williams’ workers were engaged in night projects and in areas that were well-shaded, Carew-White said the construction company was taking special care with its road surfacing teams.
“As you can imagine, laying that Barber-Greene in this heat, that is heat on top of heat, but we are doing all we can to facilitate and help them in making a smooth transition through this weather,” she added.
Meanwhile, Projects Director for Jada Construction Ian Kirton said while there had been no changes to the working hours for staff, the company’s focus was on ensuring that those on the various job sites remained hydrated throughout the day.
Over the past week, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners has expressed concern about the impact of the current high temperatures on the Barbadian population, especially employees who work outdoors and called for a national discussion on the matter.