In the heat

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jul 24, 2013 - 02:01 PM

Photo: Highway workers, including these contractors doing paving work on Route 198 near Harcum, were several of many who had to endure excessive heat last week. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Highway workers, including these contractors doing paving work on Route 198 near Harcum, were several of many who had to endure excessive heat last week. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

With temperatures soaring into the upper 90s last week and heat indices exceeding 100 degrees for several days, those who were working outside, including VDOT employees and contractors, had to take extreme caution.

VDOT Saluda residency maintenance operations manager Ron Peaks said the organization takes multiple steps to ensure its workers stay safe and healthy in all of the many extreme weather situations they must face on a regular basis.

"We’re a four-season, emergency operation-based agency," Peaks said. "As a result, we are prepared to work in all forms of weather."

According to Peaks, all supervisors and crew members are trained in first aid. "We know how to prevent heat-related illness," he said. "And we know what to do in case of emergency."

Peaks said all workers, especially in the summertime, never leave for a job site without a full iced-down water cooler. He also said managers try to schedule work to avoid the peak temperatures whenever possible.

One of the worst jobs in the hot weather, he said, is the flagger position, which directs traffic when a construction project forces vehicles to travel one way. "Oftentimes, they’re standing right out on the highway with not much shade," Peaks said.