Tradies Survival Guide to Summer


Summer is always a great time for construction workers.

With longer days and less wind and rain, tradies and builders can get even more jobs done than usual.

But while there are heaps of pros, there are also some cons — and a lot of factors that construction workers need to be mindful of to stay safe over the summer months.

Did you know that in 2020, over 500 people died of heat-related issues in Melbourne alone? Given their working conditions are extremely exposed to the elements and the intensity of the Australian sun, even fit and healthy tradies need to be careful in summer to stay safe and healthy. 

In this survival guide, we’ll show you how to beat the heat and get more work done, safely.

What’s so bad about a little sun?

Before we dive into some summer survival tips, it’s important that you know the risks of construction work during summer.

There are two main risks to be mindful of: heat stroke and exhaustion.

In both of these cases, failure to spot or treat heat illnesses in a timely manner can result in serious illnesses that last a lifetime or, in rare cases, cause death. That’s why it’s so essential that you learn to spot the signs of these illnesses and treat them quickly on the work site. 

Here’s how.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Heat exhaustion is a real risk for any tradie working under the blistering Aussie sun during our warmer months.

Heat exhaustion happens when you get too hot, to the point where your body’s usual means of regulating and cooling itself, such as sweating, no longer work properly. 

When left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to an even worse condition: heat stroke. This can be scary to both witness and experience, because heat stroke is heat exhaustion to the point where you pass out.

Learning the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke is vital on a construction work site for the safety of yourself and all other workers. 

Some of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke include:

  • Headache
  • Red skin
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • slurred speech
  • abnormal sweating
  • A temperature above 40 degrees
  • Fainting

Summer survival guide tips

Bottoms up

No, we’re not talking about Friday arvo knock-off drinks, as fun as they might be. We’re talking about water.

You should keep a water bottle with you all year round, but it’s even more important in summer when the temperatures are higher and our bodies dehydrate more quickly.

Keep a bottle of water at arm’s reach all day while you work — or better yet, keep it out of the sun in an esky nearby. But avoid drinking ice-cold water very quickly on extremely hot days, as it can cause the body to go into shock. 

Throughout your work day in summer, be sure to take frequent breaks to rehydrate, and avoid energy drinks or soft drinks which will dehydrate you. 

If you need more than water, choose fruit juice or Gatorade, which can rehydrate you after heavy sweating.  

Eat well

After a morning of hard yakka on the building site, grabbing some hot and greasy fast food for lunch can really hit the spot. 

But while tasty, these foods don’t give you enough nutrition, especially during the summer heat where you need to ensure you’re keeping energised in more gruelling conditions. Instead, make a concerted effort to eat a healthy and balanced diet that will help you work for longer and more productively in construction. 

You’ll find that you’re better able to cope with the summer slog when you eat more healthily and become even stronger. 

And don’t fret; healthy food doesn’t have to be rabbit food. A lettuce leaf between two slices of bread won’t fill you up, and might even make you more tempted to eat convenient junk food.

So to keep your meals on the construction site more exciting and fulfilling, make sure your healthy lunches contain filling proteins (lean meat, nuts, and whole grains) to keep you full and satisfied for longer, without being boring. 

Sleep plenty

We bet you’ve always found it hard to sleep during warm months.

It turns out that hot weather makes it harder for your body to go into the proper sleep cycle. Normally, you need to reach rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep several times per night to feel properly rested, but heat can prevent us from reaching this stage of sleep.

We all know how important it is to get adequate sleep to continually perform at our best during the day. But now that you know why it’s so hard to feel fully rested during summer, you can take the proper steps to get a good night’s sleep.

Rather than tossing and turning all night in discomfort in a warm room, make sure your room is cool enough. If possible, opt for ceiling or stand fans instead of air conditioning, because they’re cheaper and more energy efficient, while often being quieter to enable a better sleeping environment. 

Want to get off the tools?

Being a tradie during summer is extremely rewarding, but it’s also hard work.

If you’re keen to move into a less physically demanding role and stay cooler in summer, there are plenty of paths to get you off the tools and into a more managerial role.

Here are a few roles you could do, and pathways to get into them.

Site supervisor

As a site supervisor, you’ll work for a construction company and manage a team of tradies. 

You’ll still be on the building site a lot, but you won’t have to do as much of the heavy lifting.

To become a site supervisor, you need to complete a CPC40120 Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) (CPC40120).

Construction manager

As a construction manager, you won’t have to do any physical construction work. You’ll look after projects and workers while overseeing a few site supervisors. To become a construction manager, you must complete a CPC50220 Diploma of Building and Construction (Building).

Survival guide

If you’re working as a tradie this summer, remember to get plenty of water, rest and shade.

Be aware of the signs of heat illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and look out for your mates. 

Are you looking to get off the tools and upskill in construction? Give us a call today on 1300 534 363 (LEGEND) or complete the online form, and one of our course advisors will get in touch soon.


This article has been updated and republished on 19 December 2022.