Construction Managers - protect your employees from the heat this summer

As we approach the height of summer and temperatures begin to rise it would appear to be a more pleasant time of year for on-site workers. But with increased sun comes increased risk; heat-related health issues can have a huge impact on a construction workforce.

Excessive time spent outside on bright days, especially under the midday sun, can cause a range of medical concerns - from the less serious, although potentially debilitating, heat exhaustion, to more concerning complications such as heatstroke and even skin cancer.

With the Met Office predicting a three month heatwave for the UK this year featuring temperatures of 27 degrees or more, it’s a good time to get serious about on-site sun safety.

The prevalence of skin cancer shows why - it’s now one of the most common cancers in the world. According to the NHS, more than 100,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year.

These are significant figures, and those working outside under ultraviolet light are in increased danger. Even less serious - and more common - illnesses such as heat exhaustion warrant time off work. The Health and Safety Executive, a UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health identified construction workers as a significant “at risk” group.

How can sun-related injuries be avoided?

Fortunately, if you run a construction firm, there are numerous sun-safety steps you can take to help keep your workforce safe that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Primarily, these involve: avoiding working under the midday sun; using high factor sunscreen; wearing suitable, protective clothing; remaining hydrated; and checking your skin regularly.

However, we recommend that you consult this more comprehensive article on sunscreen and sun safety from the NHS, found by visiting: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/sunscreen-and-sun-safety/

How to protect your employees

A combination of guidance and rule-setting can help to ensure that your employees are following best practise for sun safety.

Ensure that any health and safety briefings taking place with new and existing employees include a sun safety element focusing on the above guidance, and ensure that your team are aware that the danger of intense heat can be greater when they’re doing strenuous manual work.

Don’t let your employees take unnecessary risks - make sun safety a part of the site rules, particularly when it comes to working without a shirt, and remaining hydrated. Mandating that staff are fully clothed and have water with or nearby at all times will help to mitigate your team’s risk.

Work safe this summer - and for other health and safety matters, MPW Insurance Brokers are able to assist: http://www.mpwbrokers.com/health-and-safety/

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