Road construction workers fight to beat the heat

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ----- While staying indoors during this sweltering summer is ideal, some Stateliners must be outside to get the job done.

"Whatever the temperature says it is outside, when you add the humidity, the surface that they're standing on, the sun beating down on them is amplified into a greater risk for heat illness," said safety director Casey Long.

Triple digit temperatures can spell trouble for anyone. But for those with outdoor offices, fighting the sky-high heat can be an even bigger challenge.

"In an ideal world, yeah, we'd stop work whenever it got too hot in order to work, but we have to keep going. But if we do things, shorten our days, start early, we can limit some of the risk when it comes to the heat," said Long.

For road construction workers, that plus working with hot materials means safety must be a top priority.

"The asphalt is anywhere from 350 to 400 degrees when it's made and when you've got a 103 heat index, I mean, and the guys are standing right over that, it takes quite a while for it to cool down in these temperatures. So, just the heat itself is very taxing on the body, that's why we all look out for each other," said worker Lawrence Kite.

"We're currently building an interchange here and eventually new bridges on 20th and Main, and it needs to get done. But ultimately, the safety of the workers is a value of ours and we need to make sure that we don't compromise that," said Long.

As safety director, Long says his teams go through intensive training to learn how to recognize signs of heat illness and how to protect themselves.