The risks of heat:
For the first time on record this year’s temperatures in the UK have exceed 40°C. The UK has been seeing some record high temperatures over the summer and heatwaves have swept the country.
The effects of the weather in the UK can potentially have a serious impact on your health or employee’s health. Risks should be considered and properly managed. The impacts on the person could be immediate or it may occur over a longer period.
When working outdoors the weather can have influence an individual’s effectiveness. In these circumstances some of the most effective ways of managing the risk are to introduce some simple controls.
When outdoor work is required during very hot weather, you should always try to:
- reschedule work to cooler times of the day
- provide more frequent rest breaks and introduce shading to rest areas
- provide free access to cool drinking water
- introduce shading in areas where individuals are working
when safe to do so, encourage the removal of personal protective
- equipment when resting to help encourage heat loss
- educate workers about recognising the early symptoms of heat stress
Working in the sun:
Too much sunlight is harmful to your skin. It can cause skin damage including sunburn, blistering and skin ageing and in the long term can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer.
This type of cancer is one of the most common forms in the UK with over 50,000 new cases every year. A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged. The damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight.
Who is at risk?
If work keeps you outdoors for a long time your skin could be exposed to more sun than is healthy for you. You should take particular care if you have:
- fair or freckled skin that doesn’t tan or goes red or burns before it tans
- red or fair hair and light-coloured eyes
- a large number of moles
What can you do to protect yourself?
When working in the heat, make sure you take note of the following in order to minimise your personal risk.
- Keep your top on
- Wear a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck
- Stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks and especially at lunch time
- Use a high factor sunscreen of at least SPF15 (UVB protection) and high star rating of 4 or 5 stars (UVA protection) on any exposed skin
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
- Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor promptly if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding
If you need advice, Optimum Safety offers health and safety eLearning and training.