Outside Workers Strategize to Stay Safe in Summer Heat


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –- There are countless ways to escape the heat this week, like staying inside and being hydrated. But some professions just can’t escape it, like law enforcement and construction workers.

As the Highway 65 rebuild timeline ticks away, the construction crew says heat is a concern. Although the rebuild is just a week in the making as of Monday, the rebuild crew, and others, are being forced to rethink their safety strategy.

Colette Diedrich, the safety and risk manager for Millstone Weber, the company doing the rebuild, says workers are shifting hours.

“We’ve been working earlier to try to beat the heat and then also working on the night shift,” Diedrich said.

Meanwhile, Battalion Chief Steve Stinnett with the Springfield Fire Department, has no choice but to work during peak heat hours.

“We try to get the guys in the shade, get the gear off them when they’re not working,” Stinnett said.

Lt. Tad Peters with the Springfield Police Department has a similar strategy: “We’ve been giving breaks and providing water to them.”

Every crew has a different way of keeping hot workers cool. But each have the same goal in mind.

“Things we want to watch out for, of course, is over heating, heat exhaustion, fatigue and then dehydration,” Stinnett said.

As if the sheer heat from the sun wasn’t hot enough, these professions all have an added heat factor. For Peters and Stinnett, it comes in the form of bodily gear.    

“The uniforms we wear are pretty warm and in direct sunlight for a long time,” Peters said.        

Stinnett agreed, “Turn out gear is what we call our gear that we wear. It keeps the heat away from the body, but it also keeps the heat inside the body so your body heat can’t escape.”      

For Diedrich’s crew, their hot gear is heavy machinery.

“Different parts of equipment are air conditioned,” Diedrich said. “The paver, of course, is not air conditioned. Working around the paver is very hot and we rotate people out.”

And yet, they’re still able to do what they do best. The police crew showed up to a standoff scene Friday. Firefighters extinguished a house fire Monday. The rebuild crew is on track to complete the project in six weeks. They’re all doing it in the safest way possible.

“We have not had any heat exhaustion that I’m aware of,” Stinnett said.

The construction team says it plans to take it one day at a time, only postponing work if absolutely necessary.

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