Working outdoors in hot weather can cause a range of health and safety risks to employees and others.

It seems the heatwave has arrived, and with that in mind, it’s important to think about staying sun and heat safe in the workplace. Here are 5 simple steps you can take to make sure you have a healthy and sweat-free workforce this summer: How to stay cool in hot weather outside.

Here are some helpful tips for working in the heat safely
  1. Keep drinking– ensure that people have access to water and that they stay hydrated. Poor hydration can lead to heat stress, which can be serious. Provide plenty of water and remind them to drink it.
  2. Take breaks – for outside workers, it’s critical that you provide regular breaks and that there are shaded rest areas. Allowing outside workers to have short periods inside an air-conditioned building may also help.
  3. Stay sun safe – check that workers are wearing appropriate clothing including head gear, and that sunscreen is freely available. The risk of melanoma is real and can be avoided by sensible skin covering.
  4. Educate staff on the signs and symptoms of heat stress, and what to do if it happens. Remind people to look out for each other during extreme heat – and tell them who to contact in an emergency.
  5. Although the law provides no guidance on maximum temperatures, consider being flexible – if your aircon is broken or it’s particularly hot day outside, don’t be afraid to down tools for a bit. Ask yourself how productive people are when uncomfortable, and judge whether they’ll do the best job if struggling. Health is the most important thing and safety of staff is paramount.
The risks of becoming too hot
Dehydration

Is when your body basically doesn’t have enough fluids, up to 60% of the human body is made up of water.  If you lose 10% or more you can start to suffer from physical and metal deterioration; and if you lose between 15%-20% this can cause death.

Symptoms of dehydration vary but here are some of the signs

  • Increased Thirst
  • Dry Mouth
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Urine that is dark Yellow in colour

The symptoms of Heat Stroke are all of the above and possibly:

  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Unconsciousness
  • Hot dry skin

Medical experts recommend 8 glasses of water per day as a minimum, but this may increase in hot weather because of sweating.

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Heat Exhaustion Is a very serious condition unless you can cool down within 30 minutes, if it turns in to heat stroke then it needs to be treated as an emergency.

We’ve covered the symptoms in the image for this blog,but this link to the NHS website provides more information- Click Here

First Aid for Heat stroke
  1. Call an ambulance 999
  2. Cool them down with cold drinks (not alcohol,) move them to a cooler place,
  3. Apply ice packs to their groin and under their arms.
  4. Remove unnecessary clothing
  5. Place them under a fan or air conditioning
  6. Put the person in a cool bath- (not freezing because of the shock factor.)
  7. Get them wet with a sponge or a garden hose
Skin Cancer/ Sun Burn

Last but definitely not least is the risk of skin cancer due to expose to the UV rays from the sun.

According to Cancer Research there have been 15970 new cases diagnosed between 2014 and 2016.  The majority of these are caused by the sun but not all.

85% of skin cancers are preventable by wearing sun cream, sitting in the shade and wearing clothing that prevents the UV sun rays from getting to your skin.

A final note

Enjoy the sunshine and just follow a few of these measures above and you should have no problem.

 

Further Reading

Cancer Research – About skin Cancer

HSE working outdoors

 

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