Heat stress is a serious hazard for auto glass repair and replacement technicians, who often work in hot parking lots in direct sunlight with little or no shade. Working in a shop with poor airflow over a hot engine is not much better. Fans, pop-up tents, and coolers with plenty of water is a must for auto glass technicians when the temperatures soar.
Additionally, heat can adversely affect the glass and adhesive products creating unsafe windshield installations. If the replacement glass is transported in a climate-controlled van the part will need to be removed and allowed to equalize with the outside temperature prior to prepping. This will prevent condensation interfering with the proper prep. Windshields prepped on a stand in the sun will heat up over 110 degrees. A hot windshield is more likely to stress crack when lifted into position in extreme heat. A white sheet placed over the windshield will keep the glass temperature from rising in direct sunlight. Urethane adhesives can reach high temperatures causing decking issues. When the urethane is stored in the back of a pickup or in a van the adhesive is usually kept near a door within reach. If the sun is on the adhesive while the vehicle is being prepared for the replacement, the urethane will be heated in the direct sunlight well beyond the ambient temperature. To prevent the urethane from overheating store in a climate-controlled area in the cab of the vehicle until needed. You will want to keep the pinchweld (substrate) out of direct sunlight. Work in a shaded area or position the vehicle with the substrate facing away from direct sunlight. Overheated pinchwelds can cause gassing (a Swiss cheese effect) within the urethane creating bonding issues. Skin times (working time) will be shortened in high humidity high temperature conditions. You will have less time to position the part once the urethane is applied. The minimum drive away time (MDAT) can be extended in conditions of high temperatures with low humidity. Always refer to your adhesive system manufacturer instructions for proper extreme weather procedures.
Windshield repairs can also be affected by extreme heat causing crack outs. Before attempting a windshield repair the glass will need to be cooled to the preferred working temperature. The resin will also need to be within the range equal to the temperature of the glass to prevent thermal shock. Start by positioning the vehicle in the shade or use a piece of cardboard extended off the roof to shade the repair area. A pop-up tent will also help shade the repair and keep you comfortable. Cool the glass using a heat exchanger, run the AC through the dash vents NOT the defroster, cover the chip with tape and apply a wet cloth to the repair area. Once the glass is at the preferred working temperature use your UV protection and proceed with the repair. Monitor the temperature throughout the repair process. If the temperature of the glass increases apply a damp towel to the interior of the glass to maintain your preferred working temperature. Refer to your repair kit manufacturer instructions for specific extreme weather procedures.
Call your customers in advance with an ETA. They will appreciate the update. Ask if a shady spot is available for the work to be done. Your customer will want you to be as comfortable as possible.
Working in extreme heat can be dangerous. Heat stress can lead to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. These conditions can be life threatening, so it is important to take steps to prevent them.
There’s an app for that: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/heatapp.html
Here are some tips for working safely in extreme heat:
- Acclimatize to the heat. If you are not used to working in hot weather, start slowly and gradually increase your activity level. This will give your body time to adjust to the heat.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Water is the best choice, but you can also drink sports drinks or other fluids that contain electrolytes. Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks, as these can dehydrate you.
- Take frequent breaks. Get out of the heat and cool down for 10-15 minutes every hour or two. If you are feeling lightheaded or dizzy, take a longer break.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. This will help your body to stay cool. Avoid wearing synthetic fabrics, as they can trap heat.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses. These will protect your head and eyes from the sun.
- Use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin.
- Work in a shaded area, if possible. If you must work in direct sunlight, try to find a shady spot to take breaks.
- Be aware of the signs of heat stress. These include:
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
If you experience any of these symptoms, stop working and cool down immediately.
Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for their employees. This includes taking steps to protect employees from heat stress. Employers should:
- Provide plenty of water and fluids
- Schedule work breaks in shaded areas
- Provide shade for employees to work in
- Train employees on the signs and symptoms of heat stress
By following these tips, you can help to prevent heat stress and stay safe while working outside in extreme heat.
Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Heat Stress Information: https://www.osha.gov/heat-exposure
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Heat Stress Information: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/default.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Heat Stress Information: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/workers.html