Beating the heat, construction crews keep on working outside

PUNXSUTAWNEY — This summer has been one of the warmest in some time, and many people might seek relief by going into an air-conditioned indoor space or taking a dip in a swimming pool.

But when one is on a time schedule, construction workers have no choice but to work through the heat.

Workers from Mistick Construction of Pittsburgh and area subcontractors are working daily to keep on schedule for the opening of Grace Place, a senior apartment complex at the corner of Pine and Gilpin streets — even if it means working in the heat.

"We start as early as the city will let us," Mistick Superintendent Tom Woodward said.

The crews start their day at 6 a.m., when the heat is at its lowest. Everyone normally works a 40-hour week, but in many cases, some could work up to 70 hours. This means everyone must maintain the safety policies to stay hydrated.

A 10-hour day allows for a 45-minute break, a paid half-hour lunch break, and another break at 2 p.m. During these times, the men are allowed to leave the work site to enter a cooler environment.

"Everyone here always has water on hand," Woodward said. "When it's really warm out, we take more breaks and drink more water."

Maintaining safety polices also requires a uniform that could make the outdoor weather feel even warmer. Everyone in the construction site must wear a hard hat, steel-toed boots and safety goggles.

"The hard hat becomes the most unmanageable piece of the uniform when it’s hot out, Woodward said.

For many workers that have worked in construction for years, the heat is something of the past and does not bother them as much as one might think.

"This is what we do; we are used to it," Woodward said. "We just make sure we drink a lot of water."