Your compliance priorities change with every season. As the summer months approach, it’s time to undertake a series of warm weather checks to help you meet H&S requirements as the mercury rises. Here’s a rundown of review points to set you up for a safer summer.
Do you know the signs of heat stress?
According to the HSE, heat stress ‘occurs when the body’s means of controlling its internal temperature starts to fail’. It’s affected by work rate, clothing and humidity, but high temperatures are a key contributor. Employees who consistently work outside, such as yard staff or drivers, are at greater risk due to sun exposure.
Train your team to recognise and act on the signs of heat stress, which significantly increase during summer. Common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fainting, weakness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and moist skin.
To prevent heat-related illness, workers should limit their time in the sun and implement tools, rotas and adapted working practices that lighten the load. These measures might include onsite water and shade facilities, increased team numbers to complete tasks more quickly, and work aids to reduce manual labour.
Are your staff staying hydrated?
Water is fundamental to staying well in warmer weather. Provide an adequate supply of clean drinking water across your entire site and encourage workers to avoid the counteractive effects of tea, coffee and fizzy drinks.
Ensure office and outdoor yard and maintenance staff, and those undertaking labour-intensive activities like order picking and manual handling, take frequent water breaks to top up their hydration levels.
Do your workers have the correct PPE?
Different weather conditions demand different types of PPE. To minimise the harmful effects of heat and UV rays, update your provision of safety equipment and clothing for staff working outside in summer. Your tick list should include sun hats, sunscreen and eye protection.
Also note that layers of standard PPE can contribute to heat stress, as they inhibit the body’s ability to evaporate sweat. Avoid illness and injury by monitoring employee temperature levels and providing regular relief from hot conditions. As staff may need to change PPE more frequently in the summer months, you may also need to adjust stocks accordingly.
Is your team trained in safe working methods?
Educate employees on hot weather dangers and safe working methods during summer’s more intense conditions:
- Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is a major cause of skin cancer.
- In the UK, more than 100,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.
- You can burn in as little as 10 minutes.
- Wear a hat or cap where possible.
- Take your breaks in the shade.
- Where possible, seek shade whilst working.
- Drink plenty of water. In high temperatures, you should average about one cup every 15 minutes.
- If working outside, generously and frequently apply sunscreen to exposed parts of the body. A sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above should be used. Check the sunscreen packaging for guidance on how often to reapply.
Are your drivers taking routine breaks?
Driving in hot weather can be draining, making it easy to lose concentration, particularly on long-haul journeys. Remind your drivers to break their journeys and stay hydrated with a steady supply of water.
Have you reviewed risk assessments for onsite workers and contractors?
Dry weather often brings contractors onto your premises for construction, gutter cleaning or roof works. Make sure you’ve reviewed risk assessments and method statements for onsite contractors and issue permits to work, where required.
Need expert support for manufacturing health and safety?
Southalls helps you tackle changing compliance challenges with a range of cost-effective health and safety solutions. Talk to us about standalone risk assessments and ongoing H&S consultancy to raise standards across your entire operation. We’re available on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0345 257 4015.