Advice for Working Outdoors in Warm Weather

There are many positive benefits to working out of doors, from enjoying a sense of calm, to feeling more grounded and revitalised. However it is important to keep in mind the affects that weather can have on our health and productivity.

So as spring fast becomes summer, we would like to share our top tips for maintaining your wellbeing during warmer weather.

This brief guide offers advice for individuals, including if you are self-employed, as well as controls that as an employer you can administer.

Hydration

Potential risks:

If not sufficiently hydrated our bodies are susceptible to heat stress. The symptoms of which can include an inability to concentrate, muscle cramps, exhaustion, as well fainting and heatstroke.

Advice to employees:

Warmer temperatures can lead to increased rates of perspiration, which means your body will be losing more water than usual. It is therefore important to counteract that loss by making sure to drink plenty of water throughout the course of the day, and not waiting necessarily until you feel thirsty. As thirst is an indication that you may already be feeling the effects of dehydration.

Advice for employers:

  • Offer free access to cool drinking water

Sun Protection

Potential risks:

In the short term, without protection, sun can damage the skin so that it blisters and peels, and in the long term it can advance the ageing of skin, as well increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Advice for employees:

Wearing a brimmed hat will protect your face, neck and ears.  If possible, it is best to keep your arms and legs covered by clothing, as no sunscreen is 100% effective in protecting our skin from harmful UV rays. However for any exposed skin we would recommend a high factor sunscreen of at least SPF15, but more suitably SPF30, especially around midday when the sun is at its highest peak.

Individuals who are more suseptible to the risk of sun exposure are those who are fairskinned of freckled; have red or fair hair and light eyes; or have a number of moles.

Advice for employers:

  • If possible, schedule work to cooler times of the day
  • Provide shading over areas where employees are working
  • Educate employees about the symptoms of heat stress and how to recognise them.

Allergies

Changing how you breathe can make a difference.

Your nose is designed to filter air breathed in, and so inhaling through your nose, as opposed to your mouth, can help keep allergens out.

If possible, wear natural fibres. Working in synthetic clothing can create an electrical charge that can attract pollen.

Pollen levels are usually at their highest between 5.00am and 10.00am and early evening, and at their lowest during the afternoon.

Washing your hands often and occasionally rinsing your eyes with water can help reduce irritation to your skin and eyes.

Rest

During periods of rest try to remain in the shade; drink plenty of cool water; and if possible remove any personal protective equipment to help further heat loss.

 

Further reading and resources:

HSE | Health Risks from Working in the Sun

HSE | Advice for Employers of Outdoor Workers

SunSmart | Sun Protection Advice

NetDoctor | Avoid Heatstroke this Summer

Many Employers Unaware of DSE Regulations

Research recently conducted by Specsavers has highlighted that less than half of employers (47%) throughout the UK are fully aware of regulations regarding Display Screen Equipment (DSE).

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 require employers to protect their employees against health risks associated with using display screens.  The constitution of use is regarded as any employee who works regularly with DSE for continuous periods of an hour or more.

What are the health risks associated with DSE?

  • Eye strain and headaches
  • Upper limb problems (aches in arms, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers and neck)
  • Fatigue and stress

What are the responsibilities of employers with DSE users?

  • to analyse and access workstations to reduce risks
  • to ensure controls are in place
  • to provide information and training
  • to provide eye examinations on request and glasses if needed for DSE use only
  • to reassess workstation when DSE user changes

CHOHS Ltd offers half-day DSE assessor training courses at client sites.  For more information email info@chohs.co.uk.

Further Reading:

CHOHS Ltd Team Update

We are delighted to announce that as of April this year Dr Rajan Bowri is working with us as an independent Occupational Health Physician.  He brings with him a wealth of experience and a charismatic and pragmatic approach to the delivery of Occupational Health.