Construction Workers Vs Summer: How & Why To Stay Safe

Summertime in the UK can always be a bit hit and miss, you can always expect the newspapers to produce articles about how the UK will be hotter than Ibiza, Spain, Greece etc. sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but over the past few years we have had some very good weather for weeks at a time, beer gardens and BBQ’s galore! It understandable people want to make the most of the summer sun, as soon as that one ray of sunshine is out so are the shorts and beer belly’s.

Back in May the UK had its first glimpse of what summer could be like with some awesome weather and whilst most enjoyed this, as always there are those that don’t as the Metro reports.

ripped jeans + sun – sun lotion = a big no.

Whilst this may be a funny sight to some it highlights key issues around us brits not being fully prepared or aware of the dangers of the sun, or just straight ignoring them. Looking at the chart below you can see in increase in melanoma skin cancer overtime further supports this.

risks-of-the-sun

You wouldn’t think of going abroad without sun tan lotion, and if the UK is actually as hot as Greece or wherever the press want’s to compare, why would you go without it here?

THE SUN: Another site hazard to prepare for

Now if the UK does get some good weather, you can bet most of us will be sat in offices wishing we were outside or at the pub. For construction workers the good weather will probably make your day a lot better being outside in the sun all day, but as we have seen above this has it risks, and you need to ensure you are properly prepared for them.

Some people are more liable to skin cancers than others. People with white skin are at most risk. Take particular care if you have:

  • Fair or freckled skin that doesn’t tan, or goes red or burns before it tans;
  • Red or fair hair and light coloured eyes;
  • A large number of moles - 50 or more.

What you can do

Below are our top tips to stay safe in the sun

  1. Keep your top on. As tempting as it might be to try and get a tan clothing provides a protective layer from harmful UV rays.
  2. Take your breaks in the shade if you can - this will reduce your risk of harming your skin and also help to keep you cool.
  3. Keep hydrated – Ensure you are drinking enough water. Either take a bottle or ensure you know where you can get some from.
  4. Wear high factor sun screen – Ensure you are using sun tan lotion with an SPF 15 factor or above and apply this to your most exposed areas sufficiently.
  5. Protect your head - A wide-brimmed hat will shade your face and head, the areas which suffer most from sunlight. A safety helmet will provide some shade for the head. A hanging flap can protect the back of your neck.

Check your skin throughout the day for any signs of redness, if you do spot any ensure you cover it up so its not damaged any further. For those with Moles ensure you keep an eye on any changes in appearance, if you do notice ay consult your doctor or your works medical department.

As an employer

Whilst works can take protective measures into their own hands there are a number of thing employers can do to encourage workers to stay safe in the sun.

  • Include sun protection advice in routine health and safety training - Inform workers that a tan is not healthy - it is a sign that skin has already been damaged by the sun.
  • Encourage workers to keep covered up during the summer months - especially at lunch time when the sun is at its hottest. They can cover up with a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat with a brim or flap that protects the ears and neck.
  • Encourage workers to use sunscreen of at least SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 15 - This needs to be applied on any part of the body they can’t cover up and will be exposed. You could even provide this for anyone who forgets in break areas.
  • Encourage workers to take their breaks in the shade – This may not be possible, but it should be encouraged, if you don’t have anywhere for shade you could consider making some or providing fans in the current beak area so workers can stay cool.
  • Consider scheduling work to minimise exposure. – whilst this may cause some issues the safety of your workers should never be compromised. If you currently work through midday, consider changing this for example as this is when the sun will do the most damage.
  • Site water points and rest areas in the shade – Ensure all workers know where they can get fresh water, try to place these in shade for extra benefit.
  • Encourage workers to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration- Hydration will be key in the hot weather.
  • Keep your workers informed about the dangers of sun exposure – Consider placing posters around the site to keep sun safety on top of everyone’s mind.
  • Encourage workers to check their skin regularly – keeping an eye out for unusual spots or moles that change size, shape or colour and to seek medical advice promptly if they find anything that causes them concern.
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