Thermal Trials: Turner's Temperature Tango

Kansas City data center
Kansas City data centerImage Source: Data Center Dynamics


Turner Construction conducts a groundbreaking study in collaboration with the universities of New Mexico and Indiana, along with research consultancy La Isla Network. Testing labourers at a Kansas City data center project, the study reveals that even in cooler-than-typical summer conditions, 43% of workers experienced core temperatures exceeding 100.4°F. With potential long-term health risks identified, the study emphasizes the substantial dangers posed by heat waves, shedding light on the need for increased awareness and proactive measures in the construction industry.


In a pioneering exploration of the impact of temperature on laborer health, Turner Construction, in collaboration with the universities of New Mexico and Indiana, along with research consultancy La Isla Network, conducted a comprehensive study at a large data center project in Kansas City. The study aimed to assess the effects of temperature on workers' internal conditions, revealing potential risks even in conditions cooler than the typical summer.

To gather precise data, 33 workers willingly ingested pill-sized devices, enabling the continuous measurement of their internal temperatures throughout a summer day. The findings were illuminating, with 43% of the workers experiencing peak core temperatures exceeding 100.4°F, and 4% surpassing 101.3°F.

Remarkably, the pilot study occurred in conditions deemed "cooler than (a) typical summer," according to lead researchers. While the immediate numbers might not trigger alarm, the study's crucial revelation lies in the potential for prolonged elevated body temperatures to result in permanent health effects.

The study's implications extend beyond individual cases, highlighting the broader risks associated with heat waves in construction settings. The conclusion emphasizes that such conditions could put workers at a "substantial risk of heat-related health issues," urging the industry to address these concerns proactively.

A noteworthy aspect uncovered by the pilot study was the prevalence of worker dehydration, with most laborers arriving at the jobsite in a dehydrated state. This underscores the need for comprehensive strategies addressing not only temperature-related risks but also hydration practices to ensure the well-being of the workforce.

Turner Construction's resilience project manager, Monika Serrano, expressed the importance of raising awareness about the serious consequences of extreme heat in the construction industry. The study's success, she noted, was attributed to the proactive approach of the Turner project team and the willingness of subcontractors to share their time and experiences.


The Turner Construction study serves as a crucial wake-up call for the construction industry, revealing the potential health risks associated with elevated temperatures even in conditions considered cooler than the typical summer. The findings underscore the need for increased awareness, proactive measures, and comprehensive strategies to address heat-related concerns. As the construction sector grapples with these revelations, prioritizing worker well-being becomes paramount. The study offers a chance for industry leaders to provide proactive leadership, ensuring a safer and healthier working environment for all.

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