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Beat the Heat : Managing Construction Workplace Risks in Soaring Temperatures

20th July 2018

The UK’s hottest days of the year have hit, how are you planning to manage your employees health and safety risks on construction sites?

Heat related illness can increase the chances of accidents at work. As outlined by ROSPA. High temperatures can also cause lethargy and loss of concentration, increasing the chances of accidents at work. Risks of injury increase through poor manual handling, or poor judgement when working with machinery, tools or chemicals. Workers need to pay extra attention to regulations such as PUWER or COSHH in order to reduce the risk of errors.

Risk Assessments

Conducting effective risk assessments will help you to protect your employees and your company. It is your legal obligation, as an employer, to ensure you conduct risk assessments. Helping your employees avoid too much sun exposure and managing their risks can prevent serious, avoidable incidents from occurring. The HSE recommends that as an employer you can:

  • Include sun protection advice in routine health and safety training
  • Keep Your Top On! Encourage workers to stay covered up during the summer months – especially at midday.
  • Encourage all workers to use sunscreen, at least SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 15.
  • Take a break! – Encourage all workers to take regular breaks and get into some shade.
  • Scheduling shift work effectively to ensure minimal exposure in necessary.
  • Stay hydrated – offering all employees regular access to water and actively encouraging workers to take hydration breaks to avoid dehydration. Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, employees must provide employees with drinking water and adequate ventilation, both of which help to manage a hot working environment
  • Stay informed – Giving your employees access to information relating to sun exposure and high temperature risks can help prevent avoidable accidents at work and encourages your employees to take manage their own risks
  • Appropriate Equipment – provide all employees with appropriate PPE.

Risk Assessment Benefits

Following these key points and conducting good risk assessments will not only benefit your employees, but it will also benefit your organisation. Ensuring the safety of your employees will reduce sun exposure/heat related absence days, produce a healthier and more informed workforce and reduce risks of cancer from long term sun exposure. Ensuring your employees are not only protected but that employees also feel their safety and well being is being cared for will result in a better working environment for both employees and employers. Encourage a better work culture through better risk assessments and communication.

It is important to remember that temperature related illnesses can affect indoor workers too. Office workers, drivers and site staff are all at risk from temperature increases. It is vital to ensure all employees whether exposed to direct sunlight or rises in temperatures are kept in safe working conditions and that their potential heat related risks are managed. Heat related incidents are avoidable in most cases. Be proactive and make sure your health and safety risk management plan is effective for the benefit of both your employees and your company.

Further reading:

https://rospaworkplacesafety.com/2013/07/19/heat-wave-advice/

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg337.pdf

http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/furtherinfo.htm

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/heatwave-how-to-cope-in-hot-weather/

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg147.pdf

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