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Rest, Shade And Water Are Key To Combating Western Heat Wave For Idaho Laborers

Standing on two elevators alongside the scaffolding of a tall unfinished building four workers stand.
Lacey Daley
/
Boise State Public Radio

With this current heat wave, employers in Idaho have a heightened task to make sure they create a safe environment that keeps their workers safe.

Whether working in a kitchen, or shingling a roof, the summer heat plays a big factor in people’s safety.

“Just last week we had reported, basically an arborist, this was a medical death that occurred, a relatively young man and the temps were only in the 90s that day,” said David Kearns, Area Director of Boise’s Area Office for Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

He said the death in the Lewiston area is still an ongoing investigation, but heat illness could be a possible culprit.

“Employers are in a position of control and they're the ones that ultimately set the tone for what's going to happen at their workplace,” Kearns said.

Employer demands for tight turnarounds on job sites can make projects lucrative, but in a heat wave like this, workers could end up paying the most.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “rolling the dice, the number can come up and somebody can end up paying with their life for us being complacent about heat.”

Kearns said employers need to embrace a work culture that allows time for rest, water breaks, access to shade and gives people time to acclimate to the heat to stay healthy.

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