With temperatures climbing and the Met Office suggesting that this year will be one of the Earth’s hottest, it is important employers protect those working outdoors.
As a good employer we would recommend that you raise awareness of employees wearing sunscreen to ensure they are protected from strong UV light which can damage skin and potentially cause skin cancer. If the cashflow allows, you could consider providing sunscreen to those employees that work outside for long periods, ensure they wear hats or caps to keep them cool and provide bottled water.
Risk assessments should be reviewed for those that work for long periods outside and ensure they include the heat, dehydration and the risk of sun stroke and how your business is going to protect employees from this under your duty of care. Consider whether some of the work can be undertaken in the morning or later afternoon to avoid the higher sun intensity.
You may decide to change the dress code requirements in warmer weather however, you are still entitled to insist on certain standards of appearance particularly for customer-facing roles and for shoes and clothing to be suitable for health and safety reasons.
It is recommended that you provide training to managers and individuals so that they can recognise the signs and symptoms of heat stress and know what to do if they suspect themselves or someone else is suffering from a heat related illness.
Typical symptoms of Heat Stress include:
- An inability to concentrate
- Muscle cramps
- Heat rash
- Severe thirst – a late symptom of heat stress
- Heat exhaustion – fatigue, giddiness, nausea, headache, moist skin
- Heat stroke – hot dry skin, confusion, convulsions and loss of consciousness. This is the most severe disorder and can result in death
Reducing the risk of Heat Stress:
- Control the temperature
- Provide mechanical aids
- Prevent dehydration
- Provide personal protective equipment and training for staff
- Identify and assess who is at risk e.g. vulnerable persons
- Health monitoring
If you need any help or advice on this area, please contact us here.