8 tips for working in the heat
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
With last weeks UK heatwave having many people quivering in the suns heat. The people over at leasevan.co.uk revealed their 8 step guide that can be taken to best survive the heat when working outdoors. Hopefully these steps will help prepare you for when the next heatwave comes around.
How the sun can affect those working outdoors
When we experience a heatwave like last week, this can cause those working outdoors to suffer many health issues, most notably, dehydration, exhaustion, sunburn, and heat stress.
How your negative reaction to the sun can affect others
Although in the UK we all enjoy the sunshine (when it shows up), too much of it can be detrimental on your health and also cause those of us working outdoors to put others at risk. When exposed to high temperatures for lengthy periods of time, this causes levels of exhaustion, which in turn will mean that workers are much more likely to lose concentration and are much more prone to accidents, not only for themselves, but for the general public around them. For example if you are tasked with carrying equipment at height, you need to be concentrating. If you lose concentration or even lose consciousness, that equipment or yourself, could fall, injuring others and / or yourself in the process.
Leasevan.co.uk's Tim Alcock, had this to say: “For British workers, blistering hot days are few and far between – even over the summer – so they’re often a cause for celebration when they do roll around. But if you’re an outdoor worker, they can actually pose a health hazard if you’re not careful. Very few employers include heat/sun exposure in their risk assessment, so unfortunately a lot of workers have to make it their own responsibility to stay safe in the sun. While you cannot change when the sun is going to shine, there are a few precautions and extra measures you can take to prioritise your health and wellness at work on such days.”
Below are the 8 tips given to be best equipped when working in the sun.
1. Stay hydrated – It sounds simple, but the importance of staying hydrated when it’s hot outside cannot be emphasised enough. If you simply wait until you’re thirsty before you drink water, you may be well beyond the point you needed to replenish fluids. Make sure you drink water every 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Ditch the caffeine – Many of us rely on the morning boost a big cup of coffee provides, but when a heatwave is on, don’t overdo it on the caffeine as in excess, it can prompt dehydration. Don’t forget that energy drinks usually contain a high dose of it as well, so even if you think you need a lift to get through a tough afternoon, try to avoid it when trying to beat the heat.
3. Dress appropriately – When the heat is particularly gruelling, it’s critical to keep yourself protected from the sun’s rays. That means wear cool, loose-fitting clothing in light-coloured fabrics that breathe and help to maintain a healthy body temperature. If you can wear a hat on the job, make sure you do so. And whilst it’s tempting to strip off clothing when the temperatures are soaring, leaving your skin exposed to the sun can do more harm than good, leading to severe sunburns or heat stroke.
4. Sun cream – Even if you’re properly dressed for the conditions, it’s impossible not have some skin exposed, so make sure you apply a sun cream that has an SPF rating of at least 30 and keep layering it on throughout the day.
5. Eat right – If you’re working in the heat avoid a heavy lunch, especially protein-rich meats. You’re better off with small snacks and light meals throughout the day, as your body creates more metabolic heat if it’s breaking down heavy foods.
6. Take shelter – Even if you’re properly dressed for the conditions and you’ve slathered your body in sun cream, it’s a good idea to get out of the sun as often as possible throughout the day. Take breaks in the shade and, if possible, move some tasks to covered areas.
7. Cut back at happy hour – There’s nothing wrong with unwinding after a long, hot day on the job with an alcoholic beverage, but you shouldn’t overdo it during a heatwave as you’ll feel alcohol’s dehydrating effects the next day.
8. Pace yourself – Wherever possible, slow down and work at an even pace. Make sure you know your limits and don’t ignore the warning signs if you’re starting to feel exhausted. Warnings signs of heat exhaustion can include heavy sweating, rapid pulse, dizziness, goosebumps, muscle cramps and headache.
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