If your employees will be working outdoors this summer, you have a responsibility to look after the health of those workers. These safety precautions not only includes eyewear, clothing and hard hats but also protection from over-exposure to the sun.
Excess sun exposure can cause painful sunburn, as well as damaging the skin and increasing the risk of skin cancer. Sun exposure can also result in heat stroke or heat exhaustion, which can become very serious if prolonged. Here are some ways that you can protect your employees from the sun when they are working this summer:
- Provide workers with light-weight and breathable long sleeve shirts and pants which will keep them protected from the sun while still keeping them cool.
- Your uniform should also have a hat which will protect the face, neck, ears and eyes of your employees while they are working outside in the blazing sunshine. Sunglasses should also be worn to block UVA and UVB radiation to the eyes.
- Encourage employees to wear sunscreen with a high SPF factor, especially on their ears, neck and faces. You can provide sunscreen to employees who do not have their own. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or more frequently if your workers are perspiring heavily or if it is mixed with insect spray.
- Remember that workers are exposed to UV rays even during cloudy days because these rays can penetrate through clouds.
- Try to schedule the work so that your employees are not labouring in the middle part of the day when the UV radiation is the strongest, which is usually 11am-2pm. During these times, try to work inside or in the shade. You can also share outdoor jobs with indoor workers so that the same people are not outside in the sun all the time.
- Give your workers frequent breaks when they are labouring outside and offer them plenty of water to drink so that they can keep hydrated in the heat.
- Provide training to your employees so that they understand the risks of UV radiation and how to avoid them. Show them how to recognize the symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion and encourage them to notify a supervisor if they start to feel unwell in the heat.
These are just a few things that you can do to ensure that your outdoor workers are kept safe when doing their job in the hot summer sunshine.
Workplace sun safety is an important aspect of Health and Safety. www.mfq.co.uk offers training courses for Health and Safety auditors.