Workers who work outdoors in warm weather have an increased risk of developing skin cancer, overheating, heat stress and heat exhaustion due to being exposed to the sun for long periods.
It is therefore important that businesses who employ outdoor workers carry out risk assessments for the risks of exposure to the sun and put in place appropriate controls/protection.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advise the following when working in hot weather outdoors:
Reschedule work to cooler times of the day
Provide more frequent rest breaks and introduce shading to rest areas
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
Educate workers about recognising the early symptoms of heat stress
Do employers have to provide sun cream?
This is a common question we get asked during the summer. The answer is there is no legal obligation to provide sun cream for your workers; however it should be noted that the PPE at Work Regulation 1992 advises that employees must be provided with suitable PPE for work conditions, which means weather must be considered.
Employers should consider PPE such as wide brimmed hats and workwear clothing (shirts/trousers/shorts/Hi-Vis) which incorporates permanent sun protection technology. There are a number of retailers who specialise in providing UV protection workwear, should you want to provide this to your employees.
Know the risks
Being exposed to too much sunlight has long been known to be harmful, can cause skin damage and long term can cause an increased risk of skin cancer. In the UK alone there are over 50,000 new cases of skin cancer every year.
Providing your staff with information on the risks of sun exposure, and introducing the measures suggested above, will hopefully lead to a reduction in reported cases.
If you’re unsure of what you need to do, Alcumus PSM’s expert health & safety consultants can advise on the best way to protect your staff over the summer months.
Find out how Alcumus PSM can help you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alcumus PSM (People & Safety Management) specialises in human resources (HR) and health and safety (H&S) consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Written by Steve Scott, Health & Safety Consultant