Construction workers need to drink water throughout the day for their health and ability to do their jobs well. The problems are that there are so many ways this can go wrong on a construction site. You expect the taps to be working, only to learn that they’ve been stopped by another process on the jobsite. You bring in water and it gets contaminated by accident. Keeping drinking water safe is important, but sometimes easy to forget. Here are a few tips to make sure that you and your employees have safe drinking water wherever you are.
OSHA’s Standards for Drinking Water on a Construction Site
The way that people get water while they’re working in construction has some conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that workers need water that is:
- potable (i.e. safe for consumption)
- in a container with a lid that can be sealed tightly
- held in a container that is not used for anything else
- dispensed through a tap, not dipped
This might be easy to meet if you are working on a site with existing construction and functioning taps. If you’re going to use a cooler with a tap and have your employees use disposable cups, you must provide a sanitary place to keep the unused cups and dispose of the used ones.
How to Protect Access to Drinking Water Onsite
Since people can easily get sick or even die without water, you have to treat it like you would any other gear you bring to protect yourself. This means you must think about it in advance and have a plan in mind. For each aspect of the project, answer the following questions:
- How will you get water each day?
- How easy is it for your workers to get water when they need it?
- What happens if that access changes?
Workers may have different levels of availability depending on the job they’re doing. If anyone has limited access, such as having to walk a long distance or regularly interrupt their work, you might need to think of an alternative.
Providing Backup Water Sources in an Emergency
There are times when you’ll forget to bring the water, or there is some reason that you can’t use the water onsite. For example, the city of Poway recently had to put homes and businesses on a boil order because of backflow into the water supply from recent storms. If something like this happens to you, you will need to have a backup. Keeping a spare supply of water in your vehicle might be all you need. Locating alternative sources of water nearby, even at a local convenience store or grocery, also may be able to provide for you and your workers until you come up with a Plan B.
Water Consumption Recommendations for Construction Workers
Anyone in any job needs to drink about 64 ounces of water per day. Positions that require a lot of heavy labor or working outside in the hot sun usually need more. For example, if you’re working in the Mojave Desert and it’s 115 degrees outside, your workers may need to drink as much as four cups of water per hour that they are operating outside. In this case, you will need to keep a supply of fresh, cool water and encourage everyone to drink water several times per hour. People who are engaged in work might not think to drink until they are extremely thirsty, but this can be dangerous in hot weather.
Safe access to drinking water is a cornerstone of your business’s ability to function. Without it, everyone’s productivity may decline sharply. To learn more about ways you can run a contracting business, contact CSLS today!