With the weather heating up, it's starting to look more and more like summer here in the UK. While this is a welcome prospect for most, it also brings a variety of possible safety hazards with it, many of which will impact individuals in the workplace. In order to combat these additional risks, it's important for managers and employees to prepare themselves accordingly, by following these important safety tips:
Plan & Prepare for Warm Weather if You Work Outdoors
Outdoor workers are particularly vulnerable during warmer weather, due to their enhanced exposure to the sun, along with the variety of additional hazards that may present themselves. In order to ensure that the sun and additional heat do not lead to health and safety risks for workers and members of the public, it is highly important to ensure that businesses thoroughly prepare for these conditions and act accordingly. In many cases, this may mean going beyond the usual health and safety measures; putting additional ones in place to address these risks. This can range from ensuring that workers are wearing sunscreen, to altering the way in which work operations are completed, for example: planning strenuous operations for cooler times of the day when the sun is not at its highest point.
Dress Appropriately For Warmer Conditions
Wearing the correct clothing is always an important safety measure for working adults, but this becomes even more important in hot weather, which presents several complications and potential risks. For most professions this simply means dressing in loose-fitting, breathable clothing that will keep you cool, without presenting any additional risk (e.g. causing trips, becoming caught in machinery). This is even more important for outdoor workers, due to their direct exposure to the sun and heat, along with the need for additional protective clothing and equipment. Workers must therefore be provided with clothing and equipment that not only protects them from exposure to the sun, but also remains breathable in order to avoid overheating. Companies should also ensure that PPE fits in with these seasonal requirements, offering the highest level of safety without compromising other operations requirements.
This is a simple but important tip for all workers, and especially for those who are performing strenuous operations which cause them to sweat. To avoid the risk of dehydration, ensure that you are drinking enough water throughout the day, keeping in mind that your requirements will rise along with the temperature. If you're going to consume additional beverages, opt for something like a spots drink that will replenish your electrolytes, or even make your own.
Make Sure Workplace Temperatures are Safe
If heat levels in your workplace become dangerous, it is highly important for you to respond accordingly. For outdoor workers, this means assessing conditions before stating your operation, while also taking regular breaks in cool areas to avoid over exposure to the sun. For those working indoors, every measure should be taken to ensure that work areas are kept well ventilated and cool, to avoid temperatures reaching dangerous levels. You may need to invest in air conditioning equipment, or even send workers home if conditions become unsuitable and potentially threatening.
Pay Attention to Additional Hazards
Sun and heat also means that it is important to remain alert to additional hazards that may present themselves. For road workers, this means dealing with poor visibility on the road due to glaring sunlight, along with a range of other issues, including the possibility of encountering children playing in the streets during the summer break from school. It is therefore even more important to ensure that the correct signs and protective measures are put in place before commencing work, to ensure that every possible step has been taken to protect both the workers and the public. It is also important for all workers to remain alert to the signs of heat related illness, in both themselves and their fellow workers. Advice on spotting heat exhaustion and heatstroke can be found on the NHS website.