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How to Keep Staff Safe Working in the Sun

Posted by Xamax on 10/04/18 11:24

High temperatures and blistering sunshine is the ideal weather for just about everybody, isn’t it? However, these conditions can pose great danger for employees working in the sun. It’s important that you’re aware of the following risks so that you can keep your employees as safe as possible at work.

Engineer builder at construction site

 

The topics we’ll cover are:

 

Switch up the Working Schedule

If the job you’re carrying out is flexible enough to allow it, try to work your outdoor shifts around when the UV rays from the sun are the strongest. Usually, the sun is at its highest point between 10am - 4pm and strongest between 1pm - 3pm. So ideally, try and work indoors at those times or start work first thing in the morning so the day’s shift can be completed before the sun’s at its strongest.

That way, you’re keeping your employees out of the sun at peak times and protecting them from harsh UV rays.

The UV index is a great tool that shift managers can use when scheduling their workers’ rotas. The index provides a forecast for the UV levels in your area - from low to extreme. Try and schedule shifts when danger of exposure is at its lowest and employees can use it to determine which precautions to take when getting ready for work.

UV Index Met Office

Credit: MetOffice

Take Breaks

Make sure you schedule regular breaks. Working outdoors in the sun can be particularly draining so make sure that you allow enough time for them to get some shaded rest time and rehydrate. This will help boost morale and overall productivity, making sure that the entire workforce is working as efficiently as possible.

 

Be Aware of the Environment

Glass, water, concrete and sand all reflect heat and UV rays massively and can therefore intensify a workers’ exposure. When working around these reflective materials, be more considerate of the effect it will have on you and your team’s health.

Keep the drinking water, sun cream and rest breaks always close by.

 

Provide PPE and Ensure Your Employees are Educated on its Importance

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is absolutely vital when it comes to protecting your employees when working in the sun. Outdoor workers are usually partial to topping up that tan as soon as the sun breaks through the clouds but, it’s not safe for them to do so.

Outdoor workers should be kitted out in lightweight long sleeves and long pants to minimise their skin exposure. These should be in darker colours too, as they are better at blocking the sun out than lighter shades. To further protect them, a wide brim shade cap with fabric to cover the neck is advised.

long sleeve top at xamax long sleeve trousers at xamax

sunglasses at xamax

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As well as providing PPE, ensure your employees know how important it is for them to be wearing and using it. And provide additional information on how they can protect themselves accordingly. Suncream is a great start. Workers should use a cream with a minimum SPF factor of 15. It will need to be reapplied regularly. Usually, every two hours is a good interval as it will wash off with the sweat of carrying out their physical duties.

Xamax has been providing workwear and uniforms for over 20 years and we work with a wide variety of clients - from construction firms to colleges and everything in between. The extensive range of PPE can help protect your outdoor workers in hotter temperatures.

 

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The Dangers of Working Outdoors in the Heat

Working in the sun is definitely a whole lot better than working outdoors in the rain. But with that comes various different risks. The sun can be particularly detrimental to your health if you aren’t protected properly.

When the weather’s nice, it’s usually outdoor workers who like to be the first to take advantage of it. It’s not unusual to see a builder without a top on. But, too much exposure to the sun could lead to skin cancer. Most cases of skin cancer are the direct result of UV radiation.

It’s this direct exposure to UV radiation that poses the greatest threat to workers’ health. It can also lead to various eye problems. Macular degeneration (a medical condition which may result in blurred or no vision) and Pterygium (a cancerous growth that can obstruct vision) are two of the most common types of problems caused by chronic UV exposure.

As we’ve just seen, working in the sun without the right protective equipment could prove to be seriously detrimental to your employees’ health. Health and safety at work should be your main priority, so don’t try and cut corners.

 

Keep Your Outdoor Team Safe This Summer

There are various factors that contribute towards keeping your workforce safe when working in the sun. To help you out, 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.

Outdoor working in summer guide

Topics: Outdoor Workwear