It’s no secret that there are many hazards on a typical job site. Workers are aware that power tools like quick cuts, chainsaws, and Sawzalls can be dangerous. They also know that special care is required to safely operate heavy machinery. Most job sites mandate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets, goggles, and steel-toe boots to shield themselves from the dangers above, but what about the hazards of working outdoors in the heat that are under the radar?
Despite summer coming to an end, it doesn’t look like the heat is going anywhere just yet. So, here are some tips to keep your staff extra safe while working outdoors in the sun:
Some warm weather safety tips
With warm weather, a unique set of risks arise. For instance, when it’s warm out, that usually means the sun is out, and therefore outdoor workers are at risk of skin damage, skin cancer, and heat stroke. Approximately 1.5 million Canadians are exposed to sun at work, according to CAREX Canada, and the industry groups most exposed to the sun are construction, farming, and building care and maintenance. Outdoor workers are up to 3.5 times more likely to contract skin cancer than indoor workers, and at least 5,000 skin cancers each year are attributed to occupational sun exposure. With stats like that, it’s important to protect against the sun as much as you can.
Protect yourself from the sun
- Cover up with long-sleeve shirts and pants. If you’re worried about overheating, wear lighter colours or shirts with cooling technology.
- Apply sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) at least 15 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply every two hours.
- Wear a wide-brim hat to protect your head from sun rays. If you require a hard hat, consider one with a 360-degree brim.
- Sunglasses are good; eyewear specifically designed to block UV rays are better.
- If you know workers will be in a specific area with no shade for a few hours, set up a tent or tarp to protect them.
Be wary of insects
- Avoid wearing scented deodorant or bright colours.
- Try not to eat in areas with lots of insects — they’re attracted to food odours.
- If you happen to come across a wasp or hornet nest, don’t touch or go near it but back away slowly. If they come out and begin stinging, then run.
- Mosquitos breed near standing water, so empty buckets and wheelbarrows and brush away small puddles.
- Use insect repellant spray, if necessary, and be sure to follow the directions when doing so, since some sprays are more potent than others and should be used sparingly.
- Drink cool water frequently in small amounts. Sports drinks are okay but coffee, tea, and some soft drinks may cause dehydration.
- Schedule heavier work for the morning and evening.
- Call in additional workers on hot days and rotate their shifts. Give everyone the day off if it’s dangerously hot.
- Paleness, redness, nausea, cramps, headaches, vomiting, and general weakness are all signs that a worker is overheating. Get them to rest in the shade while drinking water if any of the symptoms are apparent.
Some year-round safety tips
Some safety guidelines apply all the time. Whether it’s hot, cold, rainy, or snowing, certain safety practices should be followed throughout the year.
Keep sites as quiet as possible
- Stand two to three feet from an employee and try speaking with them. If you need to raise your voice to be heard, then the background noise level is loud enough to damage hearing.
- Mitigate this health risk by providing earplugs — even small, disposable ones help — to all employees.
- Certain loud machinery, like generators, can be kept away from staff while on site — bring extra extension cords.
- While it isn’t always possible, try renting or buying quieter equipment when you can.
- Enforce a housekeeping program for every process, operation, and task performed on site.
- Develop a checklist of housekeeping tasks so workers can follow it and sign-off on it.
- Keep stairways, ladders, and scaffolds free of obstructions, and ensure that loose materials on heights, such as roofs, are secure.
- Store combustible material appropriately and maintain the grounds (long grass and weeds are fire hazards).
- Fill in muddy areas with gravel. Use boards or plywood to walk on.
Taking the appropriate steps to ensure your workers are safe while on the job is important, but sometimes accidents are out of your control. That’s where insurance comes in: it can help make sure your business and employees are covered if something does happen. To learn more about how Federated can help, visit our business insurance page today!
This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information.