English summers are getting hotter each year making it difficult to keep cool in summer. This creates an increase in dangers to your outdoor workers. Even on overcast days, the sun can still cause burns and thermal discomfort.
It is not only the weather that can make your workers feel warmer but also the objects that are around them. If there is no air movement, ventilation or an increase in humidity, this too can make your employees feel warm.
The World Health Organization reports most workers feel uncomfortable at temperatures above 24 Celsius.
It is important that you listen to your employees, if they are too hot then change the work that they are doing. Allow regular breaks and make sure everyone understands the risks of dehydration.
What PPE do you need to keep cool in summer?
The PPE at Work Regulations requires employers to consider work environments. An example of this would be the weather. All the protective clothing you provide for your workers needs to protect them against the elements.
Summer PPE should be designed to keep workers as cool as possible. Workers cannot wear the cheapest available option. All PPE needs to be provided by employers free to employees.
Working hours should be adapted and altered to minimise sun and heat exposure.
You should shorten outside work during the hottest part of the day and provide shade. There should be frequent rest periods in a cool, shaded place and cool, clean water to replenish the system.
You should encourage your workers to remove their PPE when they are not working to encourage heat loss, dry off sweat from equipment and clothing, and cool down.
If you work on scaffolding, you need to consider covering the scaffolding sites. This is a great way to provide shade for you and your team. Also, your workers can use fans where appropriate even in outdoor work.
Educate all of your workers to recognise the signs of heat stress.
- If you need a hard hat, cover your neck with loose UV resistant cloth to reduce the risk of burns
- Place sun cream on your neck and ears to protect from burns
- If you are not wearing a hard hat, make sure you wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap to cover your face from the sun and apply sun cream.
- Wear long-sleeves PPE clothing when it is possible (and not too hot) since long-sleeve provide the most sun protection, especially if the material is UV-protected.
- Fabric should be close-knit, as burns can occur through fabric
- Summer comes with pesky insects, so long-sleeves will protect from bites and stings
- Long trousers will also protected from stings, cuts, grazes and provide sun protection.
- Short feel cooler but you need to wear sunscreen
- Apply sun cream every 2-3 hours
- Use at least SPF 15
- Wear safety glasses with a tinted lens
- Do not look directly at the sun
- Offer better protection than dark clothing
- Wear light clothes in cool, close-knit, UV protected fabrics
- Some have sweat wicking properties
- Wear summer options of PPE
To keep cool in summer, it is important for you and your employees to limit your sun exposure. As a result, you can do this by scheduling frequent breaks, providing water, and paying attention to the clothes you and your workers are wearing in the heat.
Overheating can cause the body to go into shock and experience heat stress and heat stroke. Educate all of your workers on how to recognise these signs and how to keep everyone safe and cool each summer.