Keep Employees Safe With Temporary Cooling and Drying

Summer heat and humidity often cause problems in construction projects, whether for hospitals, professional office buildings or data centers. Moisture-heavy air and extreme temperatures can create safety concerns and delays.
For some construction managers, cooling workers may seem like a luxury, but excessive heat can slow productivity and possibly result in heat exhaustion or stroke among construction workers and building tenants. Construction executives can quickly recover the costs associated with comfort cooling with a rise in worker productivity, as well as steady operations.
Here are some factors to consider this summer to cool and dry a construction job.
In the summer, workers need more breaks to reduce the risk of heat-related injuries. A temporary system of cooler, dryer, cleaner air monitored 24/7 helps keep workers safe and supervisors maintain the construction schedule. A temporary cooling system can create a rat’s nest of ducting and cords, requiring proper installation to prevent a tripping hazard. In a highly competitive labor market, builders who provide safe, dry and clean work conditions have a better chance of retaining the best subcontractors for the next job.
Make sure to consider potential cooling and drying needs during the pre-construction planning stage to avoid surprises before the summer heats up. Make sure you know the relative humidity and target temperatures, cooling objectives, the space impacted, timetables, labor needed to operate equipment, and site conditions to develop a cost-effective and efficient temporary cooling and drying system for the specific job. For example, rental chillers, cooling towers and air conditioners offer a quick interim solution for occupancy-ready buildings with an offline HVAC system. A rental cooling system not only keeps tenants comfortable, but also lets the building remain open despite construction completion or equipment maintenance. Pre-construction checklists should include pre-season temporary temperature control evaluations and early contracting of temporary systems providers for upcoming hot weather, when heavy demand can affect fleet availability, and therefore costs.
Also, should a permanent cooling system malfunction, backup temporary rental units can quickly support the site to keep production stable and workers and tenants from hot and unsafe conditions. An established relationship with a temporary HVAC equipment provider will likely aid in a faster response to an unplanned cooling system shutdown.
In addition to safety, cooling and drying equipment protect the integrity of the construction job—and the facility owner’s asset. For example, when workers prepare buildings for interior finishing in the middle of summer, general contractors can’t afford to wait for buildings to dry out and concrete to cure. Temporary cooling and dehumidification offer a cost-effective way to speed up the drying process and bring moisture levels down, well below 75 percent relative humidity. This establishes the correct conditions to validate flooring and coating specs instead of waiting months for concrete to stop sweating and moisture to evaporate.
Even drywall tape can become an issue when ambient temperatures rise. Thoroughly drying materials before finishing stages reduces the risk and costs of voided warranties and project rework.
At the height of the summer, a construction site may not want to tap into its newly installed HVAC equipment for various reasons (i.e., to obtain certification in energy and environmental design (LEED) or to keep the warranty intact on a newly installed HVAC system). If that’s the case, temporary cooling and drying equipment offers jobsites a “Plan B” to dry out buildings, cure materials, and keep workers safe and productive.
Overall, construction projects should consider the job’s entire power, cooling, and drying needs before the summer heats up. A comprehensive plan allows workers and tenants to stay safe and operations to remain steady and prevents rework by protecting finished buildings against fungus and mold, which degrade the building owner’s asset and introduce worker health risks and increase non-productive time.