With the highest temperatures of 2016 upon us, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has asked workers to be extra aware in the heat. It is encouraging workers to consider their rest times and breaks. It is also asking them to look after their skin in -the searing heat.
On 19th July temperatures across the UK exceed 30C. Heat at this level can not only be difficult to work in but dangerous too. IOSH already run a campaign which focuses on trying to beat occupational cancers and this incorporates the skin cancers. It also focuses in on other related conditions caused by solar radiation.
Evidence suggests that as many 50 people a year are killed by malignant melanoma because of their exposure to solar radiation at work. Research from Imperial College London suggests 240 new cases are registered every year. Whilst some people are obliged to work outside, it is essential that employers ensure all workers are aware of the risks and are protected against solar radiation.
No Time To Lose
As part of their No Time To Lose Campaign, IOSH shared some tips and ideas for controlling the risks when working in the hottest weather, which include:
- Making sure to check the UV Index and ensuring all relevant workers are supplied with this information and guidance about the correct protective measures to minimise solar radiation exposure. When the UV Index is above 3 then action should be taken.
- Avoiding working outdoors in direct sunlight during the middle part of the day. 60% of daily UV radiation occurs between 10am and 2pm. You should keep exposure to a minimum before 3pm.
- Swapping job tasks so workers have the chance to spend a fair amount of time in the shade and reduce exposure.
- Providing a heavy duty cover or practical shade to protect workers outside in the sun.
- Enforcing rest breaks, making sure they are taken indoors or in shaded areas. Water points should be made available and placed in shaded areas too.
- Recommending long-sleeve and loose-fitting clothes for outdoor work
- Recommending high factor sunscreen and 100% UV sunglasses alongside other protective measures.
- Recommending wide brimmed hats that shade the face where possible or safety helmets fitted with Legionnaire-style flats for neck protection.
- Holding regular training sessions to ensure workers are aware of the dangers of solar radiation.
- Recommending workers check their own skin for changes to moles and other issues.
This advice is something all employers should take on board. Especially if their workers are regularly outdoors.
Staying safe in the sun is an individual worker’s responsibility but employers also have a duty of care which they cannot neglect.