Working on the road can expose your team to a bucket load of hazards at the best of times, but in the summer, there are added dangers. This post will outline how to maximise road worker safety in the warmer months of the year.
The topics we’ll be covering are:
- Sun Protection
- Heat Protection
- Control Traffic Outside of Work Zones
- Keep Crews Safe in Work Zones
- Make Sure Road Workers Always Wear the Correct PPE
- Ensure Road Workers are Fully Trained
- Maintain and Repair Your Equipment
1. Sun Protection
Employees who work outdoors during the daytime hours are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer. Whilst the sun is a great source of vitamin D, long-term exposure can cause pretty harmful skin damage and each episode of sunburn increases the risk of skin cancer.
As you are already probably aware, sunburn can prove to be a truly awful experience for the affected person. Your skin burns up and in more severe cases, can blister and become sore to touch. It can also make you feel itchy and appear to tighten your skin. Sweating profusely and dehydration are also common side effects too.
To ensure road worker safety, suncream with an SPF factor of at least 15 should be used. It should be reapplied at regular intervals every two hours as it will wash off with the sweat of carrying out their physical duties. Read more about how to keep staff safe working in the sun here.
Bear in mind, there’s no legal obligation to provide sun cream for your workers; however, The PPE at Work Regulation of 1992 notes that employees must be provided with suitable PPE for work conditions, and that means work conditions and weather should be taken into account.
2. Heat Protection
It often takes up to two or three weeks for employees to become acclimated to a hot environment. In this case, you’ll need to allow time for your road workers to adjust to the hot weather.
There are various different ways that you can do this including revising your work schedule. If possible, try and assign the harder, more physically challenging jobs to cooler days or during the cooler times of the day (outside of 1pm - 3pm).
Reduce workload and physical labour in warmer weather. And a clear schedule for breaks and drinks should be put in place.
Heat stress includes a variety of conditions where the body is put under stress from overheating. Heat-related illnesses can include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat rash or heat stroke and all of them come with their own symptoms and treatments. The different symptoms can range from profuse sweating to dizziness and fainting.
Read more on how to deal with heat stress at work here.
3. Control Traffic Outside of Work Zones
Passing traffic is possibly the biggest hazard for road workers, especially motorway workers. If your team are going to be exposed to traffic-related danger, you must have a traffic protection in place that:
- Clearly identifies working areas - position signs in the correct places to effectively alert the public.
- Keeps the public out of work zones - barriers can be used to make sure that people stay out of working areas. They also control how much your site encroaches onto the road and allows you to set temporary speed limits in the area.
- Provides passing drivers, cyclists and pedestrians with clear directions about how to get through or around the work zone.
4. Keep Crews Safe in Work Zones
You can reduce risks for work zone accidents by:
- Separate road workers from moving equipment. Large trucks and other vehicles are often entering and exiting sites so make sure you have the correct signage that clearly designates worker-only areas and safe pathways.
- Equipment operators should always check the workers on the ground before setting off. A 360-degree check before they begin moving should suffice.
- Flaggers are often used on the road. Keep them safe by limiting their use and only use them if absolutely necessary. If needed, ensure they’re trained properly to identify and respond to hazards.
5. Make Sure Road Workers Always Wear the Correct PPE
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is vital for road worker safety. The following items should always be worn on site:
- Hard hats.
- Safety boots.
- Hi-vis clothing.
- Eye and hearing protection.
6. Ensure Road Workers are Fully Trained
Traffic protection plans will vary between differing jobs. Hold weekly/daily meetings with your team outlining the correct safety procedures for the jobs being carried out. This will regularly reinforce the rules and make sure that everybody is on the same page.
7. Maintain and Repair Your Equipment
Well-maintained equipment not only keeps productivity and efficiency levels up, but it keeps everybody safe. If an accident should unfortunately happen and the equipment is deemed to be faulty, you could be held responsible.
Regular inspections of sites and the equipment should be carried out and any damaged components need to be repaired before being allowed back onto the site. You should also log what repairs have been made to specific equipment. That way, if anything should crop up, you have it on record.
Protect Your Team This Summer
There are various factors that contribute towards keeping your workforce safe when working outdoors in the sun. We've created a Summer eBook which includes tips and advice on how to clothe and equip your team for warmer temperatures and the risks of the outdoors. Download your FREE guide below.