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Can't stand the heat? Get off the job site

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The combination of rising temperatures and humid air have prompted the National Weather Service to issue a heat advisory for central Indiana through 8 p.m., but some area workers can’t stay out of the elements.

For companies with employees working outside—such as contractors, roofers, landscapers and road crews—that means taking a few extra precautions.

“We take a common-sense approach,” said Bill Hiday, owner of Hiday Custom Builders in Fortville. “You take a couple of extra breaks, get plenty of extra water. When you’re as busy as we are, you can’t take a day off. There are some days when it gets hotter than this that we’ll call off at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. You just start earlier.”

Heat advisories are issued when the heat index—the combination of air temperature and humidity—is expected to top 105 degrees. Forecasts call for highs Monday in the lower to middle 90s, with moist air making it feel more like 105 to 110.

At 110 degrees, an advisory is upgraded to an excessive heat warning, which is posted for six counties in southwestern Indiana near Evansville. The rest of the southern two-thirds of the state is under a heat advisory.

“Drink plenty of fluids and try to stay out of the sun as much as possible,” said John Hendrickson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.

Hiday and his crew of seven were repairing a damaged roof Monday morning, but he said knowledge gleaned from his days playing football in high school and college can come in handy in excessive heat.

“There’s a lot of physical exertion in what we do,” Hiday said. “I know the signs. You’ve got to keep an eye on them. We’ve got to take advantage of the dry days we get, but there’s not a job worth heat stroke. My guys—and a lot of guys—really don’t know quit. You just have to use common sense.”

Noblesville landscaping firm Aspen Outdoor Designs provides a cooler with ice and water for its crew.

“All of our guys are provided with a cooler, and most of them wear long-sleeved shirts—which seems different in the heat, but it is to prevent the sun from hitting them directly,” Aspen office assistant Concetta Mazzocchi said.

Firefighters are used to handling high-heat situations, but Indianapolis Fire Department Capt. Rita Burris said the department still takes precautions. One is to provide crews more time to recover from an incident; another is to keep on-task times as short as possible.

“The human body is only equipped to do so much,” Burris said. “Your work time is the same, but the rehabilitation time to recover is longer. We try to make sure they have the appropriate time to cool the body down and get back to work.”

The Indiana Department of Transportation, which has road crews on construction projects throughout the state, uses an safety program called "Water. Rest. Shade." to educate workers. It also has begun using clothes with mesh and wicking fabrics, and adding electrolyte powder to the water in coolers at job sites.

And the state agency has switched much of their fleet to propane-powered vehicles, which spokesperson Will Wingfield said allows workers to get inside a cab and have access to air conditioning without worrying about adding to pollution levels.

“Heat is one of many occupational hazards for us,” Wingfield said. “We have to be more proactive with that, as well as insects and poison ivy in our projects.”

High temperatures are expected during the summer, but NWS’ Hendrickson said his agency usually issues one or two heat advisories each year. He said Indianapolis temperatures are running about 3.5 degrees above normal so far in July.

Hendrickson said the current heat wave comes from the confluence of a “strong” high-pressure system over the central United States that is producing warm temperatures. That combines with high humidity from an abundant amount of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

He said Tuesday should be “a few degrees cooler,” but the NWS expects a break from the heat by midweek before temperatures warm up again for the weekend.  

 

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  1. This is a terrible idea. I have an enormous amount of respect and appreciation for all the men and women who wear a uniform and serve the Indy Metro area. They don't get paid enough for all the crap they have to take. Low Pay and Benefits. Every thug and crazy taking pot shots at them. The statistics, demographics, and data that we have accumulated for umpteen years DO NOT LIE. Let's focus on making sure that the politicians that are "mandating" this crap are living where THEY are supposed to be living. Let's make sure that the politicians are not corrupt and wasting resources before we start digging into the folks on the front lines trying to do a difficult job. Since we are "hip" to "great ideas" Let's round up all the thugs in the Indy Metro area who are on parole violation as well as those in Marion County Jail that are never going to be rehabilitated and ship them down to Central America or better yet...China. Let's see how they fare in that part of the world.

  2. Once a Marion Co. commuter tax is established, I'm moving my organization out of Indianapolis. Face it, with the advancement in technology, it's getting more cost effective to have people work out of their homes. The clock is running out on the need for much of the office space in Indianapolis. Establishing a commuter tax will only advance the hands of the clock and the residents of Indianapolis will be left to clean up the mess they created on their own, with much less resources.

  3. The 2013 YE financial indicates the City of Indianapolis has over $2 B in assets and net position of $362.7 M. All of these assets have been created and funded by taxpayers. In 2013 they took in $806 M in revenues. Again, all from tax payers. Think about this, Indianapolis takes in $800 M per year and they do not have enough money? The premise that government needs more money for services is false.

  4. As I understand it, the idea is to offer police to live in high risk areas in exchange for a housing benefit/subsidy of some kind. This fact means there is a choice for the officer(s) to take the offer and receive the benefit. In terms of mandating living in a community, it is entirely reasonable for employers to mandate public safety officials live in their community. Again, the public safety official has a choice, to live in the area or to take another job.

  5. The free market will seek its own level. If Employers cannot hire a retain good employees in Marion Co they will leave and set up shop in adjacent county. Marion Co already suffers from businesses leaving I would think this would encourage more of the same.

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