Here Comes the Sun – to a Construction Site Near You!

Here Comes the Sun – to a Construction Site Near You!

03rd July 2018

Due to the current heatwave we’re experiencing here in the UK, the TUC has called on business owners who employ outdoor workers to ensure that they are fully protected from the sun as it seems that the great weather is set to continue.  Temperatures are soaring as high as 30 degrees Celsius in many parts of Britain and construction workers are among the group that the TUC is warning are most at risk from sunstroke, sunburn and, in some cases, skin cancer.  There are other risks involved too during the hot summer months – dehydration, fatigue, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting and, in the most extreme cases, loss of consciousness.

While most of us here in the UK will be welcoming the warmer weather, as we’ve mentioned, it brings with it some extra risks that employers must take into consideration.  Employers should ensure that staff take regular breaks, drink plenty of fluids, use the right protective clothing and, a vital measure to protect the skin, use an effective sunscreen.  If you’re a construction company owner then you have a duty of care to protect your staff from the harsh sunlight and the best way in which to do so is to educate yourself and your workforce about the dangers of the hot sunshine and how to stay as safe as possible so we’re bringing you the information necessary to do that.

Years ago, working outside during the summer months mean a great chance to get a healthy looking tan.  However, nowadays we’re far more health conscious and recognise that getting sunburned is not a good idea – it can actually cause long term damage.  Today, we’re taking a look at some tips we can use to keep ourselves comfortable and safe from sun damage during the UK’s all too short summer.

WATER

Dehydration leads to fatigue – you’ll easily get distracted and find it hard to focus on details, all of which can lead to nasty accidents.  Try to make sure you drink at least 5 – 7 ounces of fluids every 20 minutes or so.  This works out roughly at half a litre of fluid every hour – you may want to carry a personal water bottle with graded measurements on to make this easier.  As a rule of thumb, if you feel thirsty drink some water – however, don’t wait until you feel thirsty before drinking.  Feeling thirst occurs well into the dehydration process.

CLOTHING

If your job allows, wear light coloured, loose-fitting and lightweight clothing whilst working.  The light colour will help to reflect the heat (dark fabrics tend to absorb heat, making you hotter).  Don’t be tempted to work in shorts and vest top – it will only lead to a severe case of sunburn (more on that further down the page).  Long sleeves and long trousers will not only protect you from the sun, but they’ll absorb sweat more efficiently keeping you cooler in the long run.

SUNSCREEN

In recent years we’ve woken up to the fact that sunburn equals skin damage.  Use sunscreen every day on all exposed parts of the skin (don’t forget bald patches and the tops of your ears) and reapply regularly throughout the day.  Don’t be fooled by sunscreens which are marketed as waterproof or sweat proof – these will still rub off (either due to sweat or due to your clothes rubbing) and need topping up during the day.

REGULAR BREAKS

If possible take short breaks in the shade (or indoors if practicable) – this will help you to rehydrate and avoid heat related illnesses.  If you have an air-conditioned break room, try to ensure that you take regular breaks in there – and drink some fluids while you’re resting.

Educate yourself and your workers on what you can do to keep safe during the summer heat waves and make sure you’re on the lookout for signs of heat related illness (weakness, nausea, fainting and muscle cramps) among your colleagues.  Stay Safe on Site this Summer!