Keep Your Cool in the Construction Industry
With the summer months well underway, working outdoors can be an absolute pleasure whichever industry you work in. This is good news for workers in the construction industry as much of the work involved will be outdoor work. However, it can often feel like we’ve gone from one extreme to the other – spending the cold winter months struggling to keep warm as temperatures drop. Finally, better weather comes during the hot summer months and, instead of revelling in the warmth, we’re often desperately looking for ways to keep cool. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!