Hands-only CPR demonstrations will be part of the Hard Hats with Heart event for construction workers Feb. 28 in Westbrook. Contributed / American Heart Association

One in every 25 construction workers has cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association, and the Hard Hats with Heart program is designed help workers in Maine prevent heart problems.

The program will be the focus of a free event in Westbrook Feb. 28.

Hard Hats with Heart is about “helping construction employees understand that they have an elevated risk of heart-related issues,” said Lena Minervino, development director at the American Heart Association.

Its goal is to educate construction workers about how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, offering resources and information on topics like nutrition and blood pressure tracking. It also provides workers with guidance in addressing other health concerns including diabetes – which impacts 1 out of every 25 construction workers, according to the AHA – substance misuse and mental health.

Many construction companies don’t provide health insurance to their employees or they use contracted workers, which makes workers less likely to seek help with medical issues, Minervino said. In addition, a lack of CPR training can prevent workers from receiving the help they need on job sites.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year, with only about 40% of people getting the immediate care they need before emergency services arrive.


The Feb. 28 event will include a demonstration of hands-only CPR.

Turner Construction Company, headquartered in New York, began participating in Hard Hats with Heart about four years ago when it noticed workers weren’t making use of the health resources it offered and decided a more proactive approach was needed, said Sean Ryan, Turner’s health and safety manager in Portland.

Because many of their workers are contractors, the third-party program allowed every worker to have an equal access to wellness resources, Ryan said. Through the program, more workers have sought out health guidance and made use of the resources at hand.

“They feel listened to and heard,” he said.

The program not only helps with heart-related concerns, but also provides assistance in addressing mental health and substance misuse issues, something Ryan said people in the construction industry are at higher risk for compared to other industries.

The Hard Hats with Heart program “just made perfect sense” for his company, he said.

The upcoming informational event will feature a local heart disease survivor who will speak to how they have used Hard Hats with Heart to their benefit.

The event will take place at 33 Elmwood from 4 to 7 p.m. Feb. 28 and, in addition to program information, will include bowling, bocce, bag toss, refreshments and more.

The event is sponsored by MEMIC, which Minervino said has been a “driving force in helping us get this information out there.”

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