Working in Hot Weather: Tips to Stay Safe

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Working in Hot Weather: Tips to Stay Safe

As the summer heat intensifies, some of us find ourselves having to work outside in hot weather. While the sun being out is a positive thing to many, for those working in the sun, there can be potential risks and dangers. Whatever your line of work, safeguarding your health and being aware of ways to protect yourself is crucial.

It’s a known fact that excessive sun exposure can have harmful effects, so how can you stay safe when your job requires you to work outside for prolonged periods of time? In this blog, we’ll cover the dangers of working in the sun and important tips for staying as protected as possible.

What Are the Dangers of Working in the Sun?

Working outside in hot weather comes with potential dangers if the right precautions aren’t taken or there is limited awareness of how to stay safe working in the hot weather.

UV Radiation Exposure

Prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to potentially harmful UV radiation if overexposed. Being exposed to UV rays for prolonged periods of time can cause skin damage, sunburn, premature ageing and increased skin cancer risks.

Heat-Related Illness

Working in the sun too long can result in heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. If not taken seriously, these illnesses can be life-threatening in the worst-case scenario.

Dehydration

Extreme heat can lead to fluid loss and excessive sweating, massively increasing the risk of dehydration. Dehydration can cause dizziness, fainting, and confusion, interfering with being able to work safely.

Skin Conditions

If you have skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea, lengthy sun exposure can worsen these with added discomfort.

Eye Strain

Being out in the sun for too long without eye protection can strain and harm your eyes, increasing the risk of developing cataracts and deteriorating eyesight.

Allergies and Insect Bites

Working outdoors in the summer can leave you exposed to insect bites or allergies, making work more difficult with higher exposure to risks.

Safety Hazards

On particularly hot summer days, working outside with the glare from the sun can reduce visibility making it more difficult to spot safety hazards in the work environment.

Fatigue

Working in hot weather without regular breaks and hydration can lead to fatigue, reducing alertness and increasing the risk of a potential accident.

Who is More Likely to Be at Risk?

Workers who are required to work outside in the sun regularly such as construction workers, gardeners and some public service workers (to name a few) are more at risk of encountering the dangers listed above.

You should be particularly cautious if:

  • You have fair or freckled skin that burns easily.
  • You have red or fair hair.
  • You have a large number of moles on your skin.

Tips to Stay Safe While Working in the Sun

To stay safe while working in the sun, there are precautions that can be taken by both employers and employees to ensure a safe working environment. These tips are completely accessible with some being as simple as staying hydrated and wearing lightweight clothing.

How Can Employers Protect Their Employees?

There are a number of ways employers can protect their employees, taking extra precautions towards workers who are required to work outside during spells of hot weather. Examples of some actions could include:

  • Rescheduling work to cooler times and avoiding peak hours e.g. midday.
  • Allowing for regular water breaks to allow employees to hydrate.
  • Ensuring workers are educated on the recommended precautions when working in the sun to prevent any dangers.
  • Allowing employees to work in the shade where possible.
  • Being flexible on uniform/dress code to ensure employees are as cool as possible e.g. wearing shorts.

Steps to Protect Yourself

When working in the sun, it’s important to know some handy tips to keep yourself safe and hydrated. 

  • Keep a bottle of water on you or close by and ensure it’s filled throughout the day.
  • Avoid drinking dehydrating caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea or fizzy drinks.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes in light colours to help prevent any additional heat.
  • Work at a slower pace if the heat is affecting you. Know your limits and slow it down if necessary.
  • Allow yourself frequent breaks for water and brief rests.
  • Wear suncream and try to avoid getting sunburned. Reapply sun cream regularly.
  • Try to avoid eating any food or drink that’s warm and stick to cold food/beverages.
  • Avoid direct sunlight where possible and try to keep out of the sun during peak hours of the day.
  • Be aware of any signs of heat-related illness such as sunstroke and take yourself out of the sun as soon as you become aware that you’re feeling unwell.

Make Workplace Health and Safety a Priority with Relevant Courses

When considering workplace health and safety, there’s much more to the bigger picture than staying safe when working in hot weather. Lacking compliance with relevant health and safety procedures can open you up to a wide range of consequences and potential injuries, whether you’re an employee or an employer.

If you’re looking to brush up on your health and safety awareness, we offer a range of courses to keep your knowledge in line with current standards. We offer a selection of Nebosh courses that offer globally recognised health and safety qualifications such as Fire Safety, Occupational Health and Safety or Environmental Management to name a few.

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