Our field teams encounter various project sites that range anywhere from solar array fields to alongside busy highways. And not unlike the Land of Oz where lions and tigers and bears (Oh My!) are of consequence, there are potential environmental hazards to be aware of. Our Safety Team ensures our employees are properly prepared, educated, and safe for every season. However, when the weather heats up, summer hazards and their added preventions are essential for outside workers.

Poisonous Plants

In Pennsylvania, fields and wooded areas have their hazards. Three plants of concern are poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. We provide education and onsite references to recognize the different types of plants and instructions if contact occurs. Site management carries identification references to notice plant characteristics. An exposed worker is to immediately wash the area, change clothes, clean tools, and use an ivy-blocking cream on the skin.

Ticks and Snakes 

While working in wooded or rocky areas, employees can encounter both ticks and various types of snakes. A tick key that safely removes ticks is given to all employees. We also encourage prevention methods like:

  • Using bug spray (also protects against mosquito-related illness)
  • Wearing long pants
  • Avoiding tick-infested areas 
  • Choosing light color clothing to see ticks easily
  • Performing self-checks for ticks and the known “bullseye” around a tick bite that may indicate Lyme’s Disease  
  • Informing others if a tick is present

Learning about and avoiding poisonous snakes is another summer season concern. There are three venomous snakes in Pennsylvania that our staff can identify as dangerous: timber rattlesnake, copperhead, and eastern massasauga. The best way to stay safe in this situation is to leave the snake alone and keep a distance. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission protects all snakes in the state.

Heat Hazards

According to the National Safety Council, the human body regulates its temperature through sweating, until it is exposed to more heat than it can handle. And every summer, the increase in temperature is a dangerous hazard to outside workers. Preparation and early recognition are imperative to prevent three heat-related illnesses: heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and heat rash. Sunscreen, electrolyte drink packets, cooling towels, and hard hat sweatbands make-up summer safety kits distributed to field teams. Water bottles and ice are staples on every project site.  Another recommendation is for project teams to start earlier in the day to minimize time working in hot temperatures or perform the most strenuous tasks at the beginning of their shift. 

Every season brings its own challenges to workers exposed to outside elements.  Fall comes with cooler temperatures and winter with snow and ice. We may not have to worry about cowardly lions, but summer environmental hazards have risks to be mitigated just as everyday construction dangers.