Keep yourself, your workers and your investment protected this summer from extreme heat
It goes without saying that excessive heat is a major hazard of the summer construction season. The busiest time of the building year coincides with this danger, and it presents a unique set of circumstances for commercial van users.
Due to their enclosed space, vans trap heat more readily than trucks. When the weather is bad, it provides great protection for workers and equipment, but in the heat, can create a dangerous and expensive situation.
Below are some suggestions that will, at the very least, improve productivity, and at most could avert serious injury, or prevent an expensive equipment failure.
First and foremost, look after workers:
- Keep a thermometer inside the van box, which records the temperature. When the temperature reaches 86°F (30°C), implement a heat stress prevention program that includes taking more frequent breaks in an air conditioned facility (a van cab with the air conditioning running will do), drinking more cold water, eating salty snacks, or drinking some sport drink, and dressing appropriately for the work at hand.
- Teach workers the signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke and dehydration such as dizziness, decreased perspiration, headaches, personality change, poor appetite and dark-colored urine.
- Ensure site safety and first aid attendants know how to treat dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Prevent excessive heat build-up by equipment
The primary cause of heat build-up by equipment in vans is the heat released by air compressors that run inside the box. This increases the ambient temperature in the van, which causes many issues for air compressors from increased water vapor to degraded oil, to machine failure. There are two easy fixes for this:
- The first is proper ventilation. If the air compressor is installed inside the van box, proper ventilation will dramatically reduce heat. It is a complicated process, and no air compressors are specifically designed for vans with this kind of ventilation.
- Remove the air compressor from the van box. The van upfitters market does not have the same choice of purpose-built products that truck upfitters do, so some ad hoc solutions have been developed with air compressors on wheels that can be removed from the van, either by two workers, or on a ramp. This comes with the inherent risk of injury or damage to the compressor. Another solution is the VMAC UNDERHOOD-Lite rotary screw air compressor system, which is engineered specifically for vans. It installs under the hood, keeping heat down, and workers safe from heavy lifting.
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