Is the Construction Industry Set to Sizzle this Summer?

Is the Construction Industry Set to Sizzle this Summer?

12th June 2019

As we approach another British summer, we’re all hoping for the long, hot, sunny days that take us back to childhood summertime – long school holidays spent exploring in the sunshine.   We all know that a warm summer without too much rainfall is about the best we can expect, but if we have an unusually hot summer like last year’s, then protecting ourselves from the heat and the sun’s rays is essential, especially for those who work outdoors in the construction industry.  Today we’re going to take a look at some of the measures that can be taken to ensure that you keep your cool onsite and prevent the sunshine from having an unwelcome effect.

For those who work outdoors, the effects of the weather can potentially have a serious impact on the welfare of employees on building sites across the UK.  Whilst there are legal minimum workplace temperatures here in Britain, the government has not stated any recommended maximum temperatures for work, although the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services (ACAS) advises that employers carry out a risk assessment for the health and safety of workers to determine whether the workplace is a safe environment in which to work.  However, it is ultimately up to the employers to decide whether the circumstances are suitable for work or not. 

For those working outdoors in hot weather, the employer has a responsibility to allow rest breaks for workers and encourage them to hydrate on a regular basis.  When it comes to hydration, an employer is legally obliged to make sure workers have access to water and to monitor the health of their employees in hot conditions.  In fact, the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that employers take the following measures during hot weather conditions:

  • Provide more frequent rest breaks and make sure that rest areas are shaded
  • Provide free access to cool drinking water
  • Introduce shading in areas where employees are working
  • Reschedule work to cooler times of the day if possible
  • Encourage the removal of personal protective equipment (PPE) whilst resting to encourage heat loss
  • Educate workers about recognising the early symptoms of heat stress. 

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) want to put protection in place during hot weather for people working outdoors or who drive for a living as these workers are particularly at risk when it comes to heat stress.  They also want to ensure that those who work outdoors are given advice on how to protect themselves from the adverse effects of heat and the sun by making sure they use sunscreen and drink enough water to ensure that they do not become dehydrated.

Next week, we’ll have some information on what workers themselves can do to protect themselves from the weather this coming summer.  Don’t miss out on this vital health advice, follow us on Facebook or Twitter so you know when the information is available.