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Beat the heat and avoid seasonal summer hazards

Summer is here, and with it, warm weather, longer days, and (hopefully) lots of sun.

For many, it’s their favourite season. However, it can also pose seasonal safety hazards – particularly in the workplace.

Managing seasonal summer risks needn’t mean a vast overhaul of your risk assessments though to mitigate the dangers.

Gavin Scarr-Hall, Director of Health & Safety at Peninsula, shares his advice for employers on how they can keep their staff safe at work:

“In the heat, your body works harder to keep you cool, fatigue can set in, and with it, dehydration – not to mention the harmful UV rays putting you at risk of sunburn, eye damage, or skin cancer. Therefore, it’s worth reviewing your risk assessments with this in mind.

“Signs of weariness, irritability, and headaches can point to heat stroke, which is among the most serious and immediate risks faced by outdoor workers.

“It can be fatal if not treated immediately by a medical professional and that’s the last thing anyone wants in their workplace.

“The good thing is though, that it’s easy and cheap for employers to mitigate the risks.

“Try to avoid physically demanding work during the hotter periods of the day, typically between 10am to 2pm. Schedule regular breaks, and offer a shady area to cool down.

“Hats are very effective at keeping workers cool and protecting their scalp, neck, and ears from sunburn.

“Beat dehydration by having plenty of water on hand, and recommend workers bring snacks to top up their energy levels – or even better, provide them!

“Another issue outdoor workers face in the summer is pesky insects.

“Stings do not usually cause serious harm, but it is estimated that around 1% of the UK population will experience a reaction, ranging from mild to severe – which can include death.

“So don’t just write off a sting as an unlucky and uncomfortable incident. Watch for swelling and tenderness, and if breathing problems or difficulty swallowing occur, seek medical attention.

“But it’s not just those who work outside who are at risk. Offices, classrooms, workshops – any indoor working space prone to overheating will need some form of ventilation should a heatwave hit.

“Windows and doors keep a good air flow. But the issues is when we start propping fire doors open.

“And whilst there is nothing wrong with using a simple door wedge to keep fire doors ajar, the issue is when they remain propped open even when a room is not occupied.

“In an emergency, we count on fire doors to contain smoke and flames for at least 30 minutes. A fire door wedged open during such a situation is as useful as no door at all.

“Again, it’s a simple solution to keep cool and safe: A door check at the end of day costs nothing and protects your building and occupants against the spread of fire.”