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High heat affecting MoPac construction

The high heat is causing MoPac construction crews to be careful with how they work, but officials say it’s not affecting their progress.

The high heat is causing MoPac construction crews to be careful with how they work, but officials say it's not affecting their progress.

When heat indices hit triple digits CH2M Hill, the contractor for MoPac construction, adds extra safety precautions.

"That is something as managers we need to control," CH2M Hill safety manager Luke Castillo said.

Castillo said they have a checklist to help keep workers safe, including stopping work an hour early in the heat of the day.

They stop work at 4:30 to 5:00 instead of 6:00. Since they're doing less work during the day, they add an extra shift at night.

"They'll be able to work less hours in the daytime and they'll be able to compensate at night," Castillo said.

Other added precautions include worker acclimation, a buddy system, hard hats with sun shields and cooling stations with Gatorade and water.

They also do most of the strenuous work in the morning and take frequent breaks.

"Guys working, half of the guys are resting, and this is how we do it that way we keep our guys cool and hydrated as well," Castillo said.

Because extra work is added at night, Castillo said the heat is not affecting their progress and there is no added delays from the heat.

Castillo also said workers have to take a 15 minute break at least every two hours. There is a city ordinance that says construction workers have to take a 15 minute break every four hours.

The Workers Defense Project helped start that ordinance in Austin. One roof construction worker at a WDP meeting Tuesday said he's heard from friends what it's like working on MoPac.

"It's almost double what we experience working in construction and that's just a lot for the body to take in," Austin worker Felix Jimenez said through an interpreter. "They'll get really dizzy and he says he's heard of some people hallucinate while on the job."

Jimenez said he would not want to work off the highway, but says he would if he had to.

"It's just what you need to do to get ahead in this country," Jimenez said.

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