It’s summertime, and the living’s easy. Or is it? If you’re one of the fortunate few that has the summer off, then it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be here chatting about summer safety tips.
So, since you are here it’s a safe assumption that you, like millions of others, are hard at work while braving the elements.
Not to be too dramatic, but statistics show that workplace incidents escalate significantly during the summer time. In the summer of 2018, the EU recorded an excess of 100, 000 heat-related deaths.
And since 2000, heat waves have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths across Europe and the UK. That’s cause enough to don a few extra summer safety tips, right?
Let’s keep this short and sweet. I bet there’s few things you love more than chatting about health and safety compliance in the summer. But, here’s the thing: It’s important.
No, it’s not just important- it’s essential. In this short article, we will give you some simple safety tips that will help make working during those long languid summer days safer and, if you sign up with VITS, definitely more bearable.
Okay, I know we promised short and sweet. But as with everything regarding safety, we need to get to the ‘why.’ Understanding the why behind health and safety can be the difference between life and death.
Sounds too dramatic? Sorry, but it’s true. Statistics show that when employees understand (a core understanding not just a bop and nod type of understanding) the reason behind safety compliance, they are more likely to implement the regulations in a meaningful way.
This simply means that they apply a safety mindset, and this only comes from a safety culture in the workplace. Not sure what that means?
Take a look at our blog- we cover many aspects of building a safety culture. Take that as your first safety tip for the summer, or for every season for that matter.
Top Summer Safety Tips
Right, let’s get to it. As promised, here are your summer safety tips.
Does this seem a bit of an obvious tip? Unfortunately it may sound obvious but people still don’t get it. Water hydrates you. Not coffee (even if it is iced). And not most energy drinks either.
Sports drinks with electrolytes and water are the best options for maintaining hydration in the heat. As pure and plain as possible. If you think most people would know this, well, they don’t.
As many as 75% of adults in the US are chronically dehydrated.
Did you know that dehydrated drivers cause as many accidents as drivers under the influence of alcohol? Dehydration causes fatigue, leading to impaired cognitive abilities and mistakes.
While it might be tempting to reach for your favourite carbonated drink, don’t. Or at least, not every time. Our bodies need water- not the water added to an iced coffee, and not the water you think is in whatever energy drink you’re probably craving right now.
If you or your staff are hard at work in the summertime away from any air conditioned breeze, you’re going to be sweating. This can cause rapid dehydration.
If you’re busy, you probably won’t remember to drink water. It can be helpful to set a consistent 20 minute reminder on your phone. It just takes a few regular sips to gently maintain the body’s hydration.
2. Be Cognisant of the Temperature
Again, another obvious tip.
Or is it?
Sometimes when we are working towards completion, or simply just doing what we’re told (in the case of workers) we forget to actually take a moment and consider the temperature. It just feels hot, and that’s all you know.
If it is exceptionally hot, then machinery and equipment can overheat. It is essential for workplaces exposed to high temperatures to be well ventilated and kept cool.
It may be wise to invest in air conditioning and even halt operations when temperatures soar to dangerous levels.
3. Additional Hazards
Right now, the sun and heat can be dangerous for you and your staff. But besides the obvious threats they pose, there are additional hazards that can result.
If your team is working on the road there may be a bright glare and subsequent reduced visibility. Road workers should also be aware of an increase in traffic during holidays, and the increased possibility of children in residential areas.
Staff with diabetes also need to manage their exposure to heat, as well as those with skin conditions exacerbated by the sun.
Every workplace should be analyzed and possible hazards need to be identified before work commencement. This should be done every day, especially with weather extremities.
4. Take Care of Workers Exposed to the Sun
Here are some additional safety tips for work areas exposed to sun, such as road works or construction:
- Extra breaks during the day is crucial as working in direct sunlight saps energy and accelerates fatigue. Ensure there is a shady area for workers to take a break out of the sun.
- Equip your staff with sunscreen with a high SPF (30 or even 50). Remind them to use it multiple times of the day.
- Ensure staff have correct working clothes for the conditions. The ideal workwear is light and breathable but also covers the exposed skin, offering protection from the sun.
- Be open to flexibility when it comes to working hours. Starting earlier in the day allows workers to enjoy a slight reprieve from the intense heat. Adjusting the lunch break allows workers to head home during the hottest time of the day. They can get some rest, hide out from the heat, and come back to the afternoon shift replenished and (hopefully) ready to tackle the rest of the day’s work. Naturally, this is dependent on the type of work being done.
Not all of these tips are likely to be a reality for all workplaces. But, by implementing them where possible not only offers staff some reprieve, but shows that they are taken care of.
This is also a way of management leading by example when it comes to safety.
Practical Tips for Increasing Summer Safety Awareness in the Workplace
Summer can pose quite a few threats- perhaps more so because we often consider the icy winters the more dangerous season. But are we going to list every possible threat that could be facing the workplace? No, that would be a waste of time.
Instead, let’s focus on solutions. Are there blanket solutions? Probably not, but we can encourage safety officers and employers to implement every possible step to ensure the safety of their employees and workforce.
All workers need to be briefed to maintain awareness of the possible dangers high temperatures can present.
Here are some practical tips to increase summer safety awareness:
- Conduct daily toolbox talks to encourage awareness
- Post relative signs around the workplace to remind workers to hydrate, use sunscreen, or any other related reminders
- Educate and remind workers how to identify signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Obviously, we want to avoid getting there (we all know safety is about precaution). But if it does reach that point, then workers need to know how to identify in themselves as well as co workers
- Provide water for workers toiling away in the sun. Look, no one wants to do any physical labor in the sun. But sometimes, it’s unavoidable. As an employer, it’s a good idea to have refreshing water available at all times.
There are many things to celebrate about summer, but if you’re working in the sun and heat then it’s not exactly a cause for celebration, is it?
But let’s not waste time ruminating on what could be. VITS can help you make your summer safer right now.
Why not let VITS take away some of the time spent on admin, and who knows, you might even be able to enjoy an extra hour or two of summer. There’s even a free demo available for you right here.