Western Heat Wave Especially Hard on Construction and Farm Workers

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Robison Wells

A blistering heatwave torments the western United States. The heat significantly affects people who work outside, such as construction and farm laborers. In the past week, authorities have put advisories in place for an area containing more than 50-million residents.

From farms in the Coachella Valley, California, where the temperature rose to 115 degrees last Thursday to Las Vegas where the climbing thermometer forced construction operations to close, workers seek relief anywhere they can find it.

“It’s been pretty miserable,” Travis Hoskins of Summit Restorations told the Washington Post. “It was already 97 degrees when I got in my car this morning at 3 a.m. It feels like someone is trying to turn you into jerky.”

His company purchased an ice machine that churns out 300 pounds of ice a day, still not enough for the swelter. So Summit instituted a buddy system; workers keep an eye on each other in case one of them passes out.

Hoskins worries about August temperatures. “I’ve been in Vegas now for 18 years, and I don’t remember it ever being this bad in June,” he said. “I was out the other day, and I had to call my guys and say, ‘You have to stop.’ I was driving out to the site, and the temperature reading went from 117 degrees to 121.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, construction workers experience higher rates of heat death.

The weather forecast for Las Vegas shows highs above 110 degrees every day between now and July 4th. With rising temperatures, outdoor laborers can expect the hardest hit.

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