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How to Keep Your Staff Safe When Working in the Sun

High temperatures and blistering sunshine can pose a great danger for your employees working in the sun. It is important that you understand the following risks and how you can keep your team as safe as possible at work:

Change the Work Schedule

Try to work your outdoor shifts when the UV rays are not at their strongest. The sun is strongest between 11am - 3pm. If possible, work indoors during this time. Or, you can start work first thing in the morning so the day’s shift can be completed before these times.

This way, you are keeping your employees out of the sun and protecting them from harsh UV rays.

The UV index is a great tool that shift managers can use when scheduling their workers’ rotas. The index provides a forecast for the UV levels in your area - from low to extreme. Try to schedule shifts when danger of exposure is at its lowest. Also, your employees can use it to determine which precautions to take when getting ready for work.

Image shows UV index

Take Regular Breaks

Schedule regular breaks throughout the day. Working outdoors in the sun can drain energy. Make sure you allow enough time for your team to get some shaded rest time and re-hydrate. This will help boost their morale and overall productivity, making sure that your entire workforce is working as efficiently as possible.

Be Aware of the Environment

Reflective materials can intensify your workers’ exposure. These are glass, water, concrete, and sand. They all reflect the heat and UV rays. When your employees work around these reflective material, you need to consider the effect it will have on you and your team’s health.

Keep the drinking water, sun cream, and rest breaks always close by.

Provide PPE and Training

Personal protective equipment is vital for protecting your employees when working in the sun. Outdoor workers are usually partial to topping up that tan as soon as the sun breaks through the clouds but, it is not safe for them to do so.

Outdoor workers should be kitted out in lightweight long sleeved tops such as a long sleeved t-shirt and long trousers to minimise their skin exposure. A pair of cargo work shorts are tempting, but unless your workforce tops up their sun cream regularly, this can put them at risk. To further protect your staff, a wide brim shade cap with fabric to cover the neck will help.

As well as providing PPE, ensure your employees understand it is important they wear and use it. Also, you can provide additional information on how they can protect themselves. Sun cream is a great start. You do not legally need to provide your workers with sun cream, however, advise them to wear a minimum SPF factor of 15. It will need regular application. Every two hours is a good interval, as it will wash off with the sweat of carrying out their physical duties.

Know the Dangers of Working in the Heat

Working in the sun is better than working outdoors in the rain. But with that comes different risks. The sun can be detrimental to your health if you are not protected.

When the weather is nice, it is usually outdoor workers who like to be the first to take advantage of it. It is not unusual to see a builder without a top on. However, too much exposure to the sun could lead to skin cancer. Most cases of skin cancer result from UV radiation.

This direct exposure to UV radiation poses a great threat to your worker’s health. Not only can it lead to skin cancer, it can also cause various eye problems. The two most common types of eye problems caused by chronic UV exposure are:

  • Macular degeneration - this is a medical condition that may cause blurred or no vision.
  • Pterygium - this is a cancerous growth that can obstruct vision.

As such, it may be a good idea to provide a PPE safety spectacle with a UV protection or polarised lens to reduce eye strain such as the Portwest Umbra Polarised Spectacle.

Conclusion

Working in the sun can prove detrimental to your employees’ health, especially if they do not have the correct personal protective equipment.

Your employees’ health and safety should be your main priority at work. It is important that you understand the dangers of working in the sun and can train your staff on how they can avoid these.