As the temperature rises, it can be easy for your construction teams to ditch their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). But it’s your responsibility to make sure workers are provided with the correct PPE. This is what you need to bear in mind to keep them safe and a little more comfortable in the sun.
The Construction Site PPE You Need
For outdoor construction workers, the main dangers are UV exposure and overheating. Too much sunlight is harmful for your skin and can lead to short term issues like sunburn and more serious, long term effects like skin cancer. It’s important to find PPE for your workers that is not only comfortable, but also protects them from exposure to the sun.
The HSE guide to PPE at work outlines the equipment that all workers should be provided with, including hard hats and goggles. We’ve outlined a few suggestions for construction site PPE that meet these guidelines and are also perfect for the hot summer months.
When working on a busy construction site, there are always potential risks to a worker’s eyes. Items dropped from above, hazardous materials and dust, to name a few.
The summer can be an especially hazardous time with bright sunlight making it difficult to see dangers. Eyes are at risk of being strained which can lead to blurred vision, sensitivity to light and headaches.
Polaroid safety spectacles are perfect for construction workers as they provide 99 percent protection against UV light. They eliminate reflective glare, making it easy for the worker to see and avoid potential hazards.
If the site or task requires workers to wear goggles, choose a design that offers direct ventilation. This will prevent the goggles from fogging up and becoming a danger due to reduced visibility.
Falling objects and low ceilings are just two of the hazards that a hard hat protects workers from.
Hard hats are essential but some workers may be tempted to work without them as they can cause overheating and sweating. You should provide hard hats that offer full UV protection, ventilation, a foam sweat band and a retractable visor. This will reduce sweating whilst still keeping the wearer safe and protected.
Some hard hats do not offer full UV protection so it’s important to find the ones that do, or speak to your staff about the dangers of exposure to sun and encourage them to wear sun cream and take regular breaks in the shade.
Cuts, abrasions, contamination, electric shocks, impact, hazardous chemicals and temperature extremes are just some of the dangers that hands face on a construction site each day.
Specialised work gloves protect hands from injury when carrying heavy equipment, handling sharp tools and exposure to hot temperatures.
However, wearing heavy duty gloves in the summer can make the skin hot and sweaty, which can lead to irritation and issues like blisters. One solution is to wear separate inner gloves made of cotton to reduce the impact of the coarser material on the skin.
Find gloves for your staff that offer excellent ventilation and a breathable, seamless liner. This will prevent hands from overheating and make workers more likely to keep them on in the sun.
What Can You Do to Reduce Risks?
In addition to the summer construction site PPE you’ll need to provide for workers on your team, there are some extra precautions you can take to reduce the risk of illness and injury caused by the sun and heat.
Regular water breaks prevent dehydration and it’s important to make sure teams are rotated if possible so one group doesn’t spend all day in the sun. This will not only keep them safe and healthy, but also raise morale as your team will appreciate the effort you’ve made.
Hold team meetings to highlight the serious health risks that UV exposure can cause and offer suggestions as to how everyone can stay safe. Taking the time to do this reinforces a positive safety culture and shows staff that you care about their well-being.
Don’t ignore any potential symptoms like difficulty concentrating, dizziness, headaches, sweating or vomiting as these can be a sign that someone is experiencing dehydration or heat stress.
Finding the suitable summer construction site PPE will ensure all health and safety measures are met, but there are other clothing options that could reduce the risk of UV exposure and overheating.
Lightweight long sleeve shirts and pants protect the skin from UV, especially if they are dark in colour. These will reduce health issues for workers, even if they’d rather be in a t-shirt and shorts.
Keep Your Workers Safe
Working outdoors in the summer brings serious health risks that you need to make sure you’re prepared for. For more information on keeping construction workers safe in the sun, download our free guide using the link below.