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Construction workers share how they stay safe working in triple-digit heat

Heat Wave
Posted at 4:43 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 22:39:08-04

WASCO, Calif. (KERO) — It can be tough to step into these construction workers’ shoes daily when their hours and weather conditions can vary.

“Five days a week is the set goal, but in that, we need to get production done and stuff comes up, we have to keep up demand and scheduling,” said Daniel Maga, labor foreman with California Rail Builders. “Oftentimes we end up having to come in six days, or even working ten hours a day, during the five days.”

Maga has been working on the California High-Speed Rail project for almost three years, but his work didn’t start there. He’s been in the industry for years and comes from a long line of construction workers. He says like most workers on the California High-Speed Rail project in Wasco, he does the job every day for his family back home even during weeks in Kern County when the temperatures rise to triple digits.

“People that complain about the heat, that work indoors and don’t really have to come outside. I think in the back of my mind: if they only knew,” Maga said.

When Kern County heats up, Maga says they make sure the workers have what they need to avoid heat exhaustion, including plenty of water with electrolytes, breaks and cooling stations, plus a plan in place if any worker starts to feel faint.

“We bring them to a shaded area, pour cold water on their wrists, their pressure points to cool the body temperature down, take 10 to 15 minutes to get your composure, and see if you’re good enough to go back,” he said. “Even if you’re good enough to go back, pump the breaks a lot and pace yourself. There’s no point in killing yourself to get something done.”

Mario Salina represents the union that a lot of the workers on the California High-Speed Rail project. They make also make sure that their members and contractors are educated on safety during excessive heat. He says Cal/OSHA and the contractors on this project ensure this safety for their workers.

“It’s important that everyone be safe and make it home, like myself. I like to get home to my beautiful wife Dolores,” Salinas said. “So of course, I like to go home every day, as well as all the laborers working out here.”