How Outdoor Workers can Stay Safe When the Sun’s Out

Working outdoors can bring many health and safety challenges, but cancer is perhaps not usually viewed as one of them. For outdoor workers, the risks around skin cancer are very real indeed.

The number of skin cancer cases is growing all the time, with around 10,000 patients each year diagnosed with the condition in the UK.

Protect Against Surface Reflection

This means that those workers who are carrying out tasks like grounds maintenance, litter management or window washing need to be aware of the risks, especially as the risks increase when sunlight is reflected from nearby surfaces.

Thankfully, there are several things that employers can do to help mitigate the risk of skin cancer to their employees. First, an employer should always carry out a risk assessment to see what measures can be put in place to protect outdoor workers. Individuals with fair skin, a family history of skin cancer or those who have been subject to sudden intense exposure to UV radiation are all at risk.

Work Smart

It may sound simple, but one way to mitigate this risk is to complete outdoor tasks earlier or later in the day when the sun’s glare, and the attendant UV radiation, is less intense. Where this is not possible, personal protective clothing such as hats and sunscreen should be used as a matter of course.

Always remember that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publication INDG337 Sun Protection: Advice for Employers of Outdoor Workers states that: “UV radiation should be considered an occupational hazard for people who work outdoors.” With the sun also exacerbating health issues such as premature skin aging and inflammation of the eyes, employers have a huge duty of care to ensure that their employees are protected from the sun while working.

Stay Hydrated

It may sound obvious, but it’s important to stay hydrated as dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches and even fainting. Ensure that you have a drink of water before you start your shift and keep some water in an easily accessible place, if you cannot carry it with you whilst working.

Simple Steps will Keep you Safe

So next time you’re scheduled to work outdoors, ensure that you take some simple steps to stay safe. A hat, some long sleeves, some sunscreen and some water will go a long way towards keeping those intense UV rays away from your skin and avoiding dehydration. If you’re in any doubt about which steps to take, get in touch with us here at Total Support Services Limited and we’ll be delighted to help!