Construction Site Safety Training: Heart Attacks and CPR

Construction workers are particularly at risk to heart attacks thanks to extreme weather and the danger of using heavy machinery under often-stressful conditions. The key to prevention is knowing and understanding the signs.

Here are some of the warning signs that one of your workers might be in
danger of a heart attack:

• General unwellness
Oddly enough, the first signs of an imminent heart attack are often not the garden-variety chest pain or numbness in arms or legs, but rather a general feeling of unwellness. From just feeling crummy for no particular reason to nausea or dizziness, many workers do not take pre-heart attack signs seriously, but rather as a sense that something about their body is “a bit off”. If someone on your site complains that they need to sit down due to dizziness, or they just need “to take a break” until nausea passes, give the person a low-dose aspirin and call a doctor.

• Shortness of breath
Sudden shortness of breath is one of the most common signs that a heart attack is on the way. This “tight” feeling in the chest can definitely be accompanied by chest pain and discomfort (see our next point), but many times it is not. If one of your normally healthy construction team member complains that they can’t seem to get enough air, see this as a possible lead-up to a heart attack.

• Chest discomfort
Chest discomfort can take many forms, but most people typically think the chest discomfort associated with a heart attack is pain. Some construction site workers do feel chest pain before a heart attack, but most likely that discomfort takes the form of pressure in the chest or a feeling of fullness. This discomfort can come and go, which is often why your concrete coring or flat sawing worker might feel fullness in the chest, have that feeling disappear, and then work as if nothing is wrong. Any discomfort that comes and goes should be seen as a potential precursor to cardiac arrest.

Pain or discomfort in upper body
When your demolition or wall sawing worker starts to feel pain or discomfort in the torso area, it’s time to prep for a potential attack. Common places workers feel pain and discomfort include the neck, back, stomach, one or both arms, or even the jaw. If a team member complains about non-muscular pain in their back or stomach, there’s a good chance that they may be at risk of an attack. This discomfort may come and go, but even if it disappears suddenly, you need to pay close attention and prep for what may come next.

Awareness and vigilance is a good way to prevent heart attacks although there is always an extreme risk of them happening before help can arrive. The best way to protect you and your workers after a heart attack is to learn CPR to help keep the victim alive until medical professionals arrive on the scene to treat the victim.

Read more about Construction Safety Support and join us in keeping your workers safe!