Temperature in the workplace

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When working outdoors the effects of the weather in the UK environment can potentially have a serious impact on an employee’s health if the risks have not been considered or properly managed.

The Health & Safety Executive has issued guidance to business owners and managers.

HSE said: “When working outdoors the weather can have influence an individual’s effectiveness and this is not readily managed using just engineering controls. In these circumstances some of the most effective ways of managing these environments are to introduce some simple administrative controls.”

Cold environments

  • ensure the personal protective equipment issued is appropriate;
  • provide mobile facilities for warming up, and encourage the drinking of warm fluids such as soup or hot drinks;
  • introduce more frequent rest breaks;
  • consider delaying the work; and
  • educate workers about recognising the early symptoms of cold stress.

Hot environments

  • reschedule work to cooler times of the day;
  • provide more frequent rest breaks and introduce shading to rest areas;l
  • provide free access to cool drinking water;
  • introduce shading in areas where individuals are working;
  • encourage the removal of personal protective equipment when resting to help encourage heat loss; and
  • educate workers about recognising the early symptoms of heat stress.

Working in the sun 
HSE said: “Too much sunlight is harmful to your skin. It can cause skin damage including sunburn, blistering and skin ageing and in the long term can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK with over 50,000 new cases every year.

“A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged. The damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight.”

Who is at risk?
If work keeps you outdoors for a long time your skin could be exposed to more sun than is healthy for you.

You should 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; and
  • a large number of moles.

The HSE Workplace health safety and welfare guide can be downloaded HERE.

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About Author

With more than 25 years' experience in business-to-business publishing, Simon is editor of LBM titles Pest and OvertheCounter. Big fan of Manchester United.