Health & safety awareness for summer
Posted on 22nd May, 2015 | By Lorretta Tatham
With the summer season well on its way it’s time to start thinking about how to stay safe when working in the summer sun.
While some may think your job is enviable, working in the heat can be risky if you’re not careful. Being prepared for the weather and taking adequate measures will ensure that you stay safe this summer and enjoy the season’s heat.
Top tips for keeping safe and well
When you sweat you lose fluid, which can lead to dehydration. Prevent the risk of this by drinking fluids throughout the day. If you’re an employer on a busy building site, think about providing free access to cool drinking water to encourage your employees to take breaks and remain hydrated.
It’s important to be aware of the risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Overdoing it in the summer heat can lead to either one of these ailments, or both of them, so take your time and remember to take breaks. It’s also a good idea to reschedule your work hours to cooler times of the day and avoid midday heat.
Signs of heat exhaustion include general fatigue, nausea, weakness, dizziness, muscle cramp and an increase in body temperature. If you find yourself suffering from these symptoms stop work immediately and, if necessary, get some advice from your doctor.
Think about clothing
Opt for light, breathable clothing that still provides the protection you need. Heavy clothing can lead to heat exhaustion and stroke. Clothes should also be light in colour to reflect the sun.
If your outdoor work involves wearing a protective helmet remember to remove it during rest periods to allow your head to breathe and cool off.
Wear sun protection
Too much sunlight is harmful to your skin and exposure to UV rays for long periods puts you at a much higher risk of sunburn. Even though it may be tempting to remove your top, it’s best to keep a thin layer of clothing on to cover your skin. You should also wear a high factor sun cream on any exposed skin. Of course, it goes without saying, stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks and especially at lunchtime.
Keep allergies and heat-related illnesses at bay
Allergies, such as hayfever, can make working outdoors difficult so make sure you are fully prepared and take the relevant medicines. Do be aware that antihistamines can increase the risks of dehydration, so if you are taking them remember to up your water intake.
Use your common sense
At the end of the day using your common sense should keep you safe. If there’s a heatwave, think about rescheduling a project or putting it back a few hours. You shouldn’t be working outdoors if it’s dangerously hot.
Equally, if you’re feeling unwell, go indoors and take a break. It’s important that you listen to your body.