Medical Minute: Working in the Heat

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MINOT, N.D. - The U.S. Department of Labor says thousands of employees become sick each year and many die from working in the heat. But local constructions say they are doing everything to make sure that doesn't happen to their guys.

In this week's Medical Minute I spoke with Trinity Health about the dangers of working in the heat and a group of construction workers who continue to work through hot days like this.

Pouring concrete. Shoveling gravel. Driving Big Trucks. These guys can't get a break on a day like this.

"We're sweating a ton, it's like hard work," says Steve Flores, Flores Concrete Construction, Labor.

And they aren't alone! Trinity Health says everyone with an outdoor job like this better watch out when mercury rises.

"If you do something just because you think you can do it and you have that mentality that I'm tough-I'm feeling a little hot but it doesn't matter-you could end up in trouble," says Dr. Jeffrey Sather, Trinity Chief of Medicine.

They might start the day just fine but within a few hours look at all the problems that can come up: heat stroke, exhaustion, sun burn, and heat cramps.

"Stay in cooler areas as much as possible and drink plenty of fluids," says Dr. Sather.

"Everybody keep drinking water all day" says Alberto Flores, Flores Concrete Construction Owner.
"Probably a gallon a day," says Steve Flores.

Alberto here works about an eight hour shift and with temperatures like this around 75 and 80. That means he needs not one, not two, not three...But, 12 bottles of these waters to make back what he loses in sweat.

It seems like a lot of water, but without it the workday can end at the emergency room.

"Last year I think it was one or two days too hot. We go and sit down a little bit," says Alberto Flores, Flores Concrete Construction Owner.

The Department of Labor says the key number is 75. Seventy-five degrees and you'd better start stacking up the water, taking breaks every 15 minutes, and looking for this: a cool spot in the shade.

For more safety tips you can check out the U.S. Department of Labor website.