Preventing Heat Stress with a Fabric Building

Nicole Pulyado, Contributor

Heat-related illnesses range from mild cramps all the way to potentially deadly heat stroke, and they are possible in a wide variety of industries and professions. When it comes to heat stress, prevention is key and always easier than treatment after the fact.

To protect workers exposed to the outside elements, businesses can increase safety by offering shaded areas to act as cooling stations. Within these designated spaces, there should be an opportunity to hydrate, reapply SPF and rest in a cooler setting periodically throughout the day.

However, many who are at the highest risk for heat stress, such as workers in the outdoor construction industry, work on temporary jobsites and relocate often. This can become problematic, as brick-and-mortar structures are not feasible to relocate, and businesses would lose all sustainability if they tried to construct a new, traditional building at every site. In these situations, a temporary tension fabric structure can become the safety solution companies need. Although many of these buildings feature temporary foundations to ensure easy transportation to different locations, they are also sturdy enough to use for long-term or permanent projects, making them ideal for every kind of job site.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to a fabric structure is the ability to provide a shaded area for protection from dangerous outdoor weather conditions. Customers should look for buildings that feature temperature-regulating fabrics to enclose the structure. These specially designed materials are a key factor in escaping the heat, as they shield workers from constant exposure to direct sunlight.

According to Geoffrey Ching, Director of Sales with ClearSpan Fabric Structures, “Fabric covers are ideal for maintaining a comfortable interior environment. Fabric covers can keep the interior cooler than outside. Most customers report an inside temperature approximately 20 degrees cooler in summer.”

When exposed to taxing outdoor conditions, a 20-degree difference could be the change needed to prevent heat-related illnesses and, while the temperature adjustment is certainly an enjoyable feature of fabric covers for comfort reasons, it can become a necessary life-saving benefit as well.

Fabric structures are also a great option, because of their impressive natural ventilation, a feature often lacking within conventional buildings. With customizable solutions, fabric buildings can be designed based on specific needs. To create a dedicated cooling environment, customers can opt for a structure with just overhead coverage for maximum ventilation or include two side walls to create a shaded area that encourages air flow. Numerous opportunities to increase ventilation within the shaded coverage of a fabric building create the perfect escape from the heat.

These ventilation features are also perfect for saving money. With so many options to reduce the building’s temperature naturally, there is less of a need to run costly, inefficient air conditioning units used in traditional buildings. This is supplemented by the sunlight filtered through translucent fabric covers, which creates a well-lit environment without the need for artificial daytime lighting, further reducing monthly expenses.

Ching noted that such cost-saving features are often the reason customers choose to purchase a fabric building. “We are passionate about creating interior environments ideal for designated uses, such as creating a cool environment for workers. We begin by maximizing the amount of natural light and ventilation inside each structure. This is why so many industries now prefer tension-fabric structures to steel or wood-frame construction,” he said.

While inside a fabric building, workers will experience soft lighting without the damaging effects of direct sunlight, especially when fabric covers are UV-resistant for additional protection. Natural lighting and temperature regulation are the easiest way to reduce energy usage and lower monthly maintenance costs within the cool environment of a fabric building.

Workers across many industries, including construction, agriculture, mining and more, are susceptible to the sneaky dangers of heat-related illnesses. Businesses can invest in the safety of their employees the economical way with a fabric building. Increased ventilation, shelter from sunlight and the opportunity to take regular breaks during the day all contribute to maintaining health and preventing unnecessary illness. WMHS

About the author: Nicole Pulyado is a PR and Digital Content Specialist for ClearSpan, which specializes in fabric structures for the material handling industry. For more information on ClearSpan, visit www.clearspan.com or call 1-866-643-1010 to speak with a ClearSpan specialist.