Top 10 Workplace Summer Health and Safety Tips
24 July 2019
The UK is bracing itself for record breaking temperatures this week. Whilst this is great news for some, high temperatures can pose a risk to the safety and well-being of staff in the workplace during summer – especially for outdoor workers.
True Solicitors have compiled a list of the top 10 health and safety tips to keep your staff safe whilst at work this summer.
1. Conduct a Risk Assessment
A risk assessment should be conducted to highlight any hazards or issues that may cause harm to employees. This will help you to implement any precautions to help mitigate risk. Factors that should be considered when conducting a risk assessment for summer working include:
- The working climate – how hot the air temperature is, the level of humidity, proximity to heat source.
- Type of work – The more strenuous a person’s job is the more body heat they will generate.
- Clothing – Is workers’ clothing appropriate to protect them from sunburn and to keep them cool enough in high temperatures.
- Individual worker – Take into consideration the age, build and medical factors which may make working in higher temperatures more difficult for certain staff members.
2. Keep the workplace cool
If the workplace is indoors – such as an office, retail space or warehouse, it is important to keep the temperature as cool as ‘reasonably’ possible during summer. Make use of air conditioning and have this regularly maintained throughout the year, to avoid issues with faults in summer. If the workplace doesn’t have AC installed, cool the air with electric fans and open windows to keep the space well ventilated.
3. Avoid dehydration
Higher temperatures can make it easier for staff to become dehydrated more quickly. Provide staff with access to drinking water and encourage staff to take regular breaks to top up their water bottle to keep hydrated.
4. Provide training
Train staff on the importance of keeping their skin protected in the sun and on how to spot the tell-tale signs of sun damage, dehydration and heatstroke.
5. Appropriate clothing & PPE
It is essential that outdoor workers are supplied with appropriate clothing and PPE (personal protective equipment) to protect them from the sun, along with being encouraged to wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30. Indoor workers should be advised to wear clothing that is cool and comfortable. If a strict dress code is in place for office staff this could perhaps be relaxed during the summer months.
Hay fever is at its worst during the summer and can significantly impair outdoor workers vision and ability to work comfortably. Hay fever medication can also cause drowsiness which can be dangerous for employees who operate machinery or drive. If possible allow employees who suffer particularly badly with hay fever to do a different job indoors whilst pollen levels are high.
In office environments make sure that air vents are cleaned from pollen and dust, and that windows are kept closed in the early morning and late afternoon when pollen levels are at their highest.
7. Insect Stings & Bites
Employees are more susceptible to insect bites and stings in the summer. As an employer it is important to know which staff members could suffer from an allergic reaction as a result and what action should be taken if an employee is bitten. First aid kits should be stocked with antiseptic cream and a skin rash cream such as hydrocortisone, along with antihistamine cream and tablets to treat bites and stings. Outdoor workers should use insect repellent spray to avoid being bitten or stung.
8. Give staff regular breaks
Working in higher temperatures can make employees feel more lethargic and tired, which can endanger their safety in the workplace. Allow staff to take regular breaks in a cool environment, with access to water and shade. The hotter the workplace and the more strenuous the type of work is the more frequent and longer the breaks should be.
9. Keeping food refrigerated
It is important to remind staff to keep food refrigerated in high temperatures. Food left out in the sun can lead to harmful levels of bacteria which can make employees ill.
10. Reschedule tasks
Use common sense and reschedule strenuous tasks for days and times that are cooler in temperature, to avoid staff becoming exhausted.