19 Jul 2016
Now that summer finally seems to have arrived employers need to remember some basic tips for keeping workers healthy both indoors and out in the sunshine. Here are Croner’s Top Ten Tips to staying healthy in the heat this summer.
- Consider extremes of temperature and direct exposure to sunlight in your workplace risk assessments.
- For indoor workplaces that don’t have the benefit of air conditioning, try to ensure that there is airflow through work areas. A temperature range of between 13°C (56°F) and 30°C (86°F), is the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) recommended range for ‘thermal comfort’.
- Ensure that heating, cooling, ventilation, humidifying and dehumidifier equipment and ducts are regularly inspected, maintained and cleaned.
- Relative humidity has a part to play in thermal comfort; try to keep it between 40-60% indoors.
- Outdoor workers should be encouraged to keep covered up during summer months, especially around lunchtime when the sun is at its hottest. Any exposed areas should be covered with sun cream with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15.
- Some people feel both heat and cold more than others, especially if there is air movement. Bumping up air conditioning, using desk fans and opening windows to create airflow can reduce workplace temperatures but can lead to employee disagreements. Mitigate this by engaging the workforce and agreeing on acceptable temperatures and agree rules around aircon/fan/window use.
- Workers should drink plenty of water or other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks in order to avoid dehydration. Outdoor site workers should have easy access to clean, cool water. If not, consider providing a water bowser or similar measures. Site water points and rest areas in the shade.
- Workers may be reluctant to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in warm weather. When deciding which PPE to issue to employees, thermal comfort should be a consideration. Additional ‘cool breaks’ may be necessary when using PPE in the sun.
- Communicate heat and sun health risks to employees. Encourage them to look out for unusual spots or moles that change shape, size or colour – they might be signs of skin cancer and should be checked out by a medical professional.
- If you decide to relax the company dress code during hot weather be sure to keep it sensible – footwear especially should be suitable for the workplace, with adequate grip.
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