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Heat Safety

Countywide Mechanical Systems has been working on two projects located in aptly named Death Valley at Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch Resort.

The temperatures in Death Valley historically average above 90°F from April to October, thereby necessitating special attention to the Heat and Illness Prevention Plan. Over the summer of 2017, the temperature reached a whopping 127°F in mid-August. July 2017 is now the hottest month on record – ever! The average temperature was 107.4°F. This breaks the previous record of 107.2°F set in 1917.

The temperature is the highest hazard on the jobsite. Educating all employees with an in-depth orientation aligned to Cal/OSHA’s Heat and Illness Regulations of water, rest, and shade is a high priority. Prevention is key when operating on such a remote site. The nearest medical facility is an hour away, and even a life-flight helicopter would take 20 minutes to reach the jobsite from Las Vegas. An acclimation period for the body to get used to the high heat is scheduled for each new worker. The process, which can take from 7-14 days depending on the person and his or her physical condition, focuses on the following:

  • Water intake (8 oz. every 15 minutes totaling 2 gallons a day)
  • Frequent water breaks in a shaded areas
  • Utilizing the buddy system
  • Ensuring methods of communication are in place
  • Modifying the work schedule to start and end at earlier times of the day
  • Tracking daily and weekly temperature and humidity weather predictions

Using supplemental PPE items such as neck shades, hardhat brim extenders, long-sleeve dry fit class 2 shirts in lieu of safety vests, sunscreen, unlimited amounts of water and ice, and air conditioned cool down rooms.

We are committed to the health and safety of our employees and partners on all projects. When faced with extreme environmental conditions such as the ones in Furnace Creek in Death Valley, it is up to our foremen, managers, and supervisors to educate the workers and take action to enact our Heat and Illness Prevention Program.   Our HIPP leads the way for combating extreme environments such as the one in Furnace Creek, where we will once again face the heat in 2018.

— Jerry Fredericksen
Safety Manager