The heat is far less fun in Construction

Summer has certainly arrived and over the next few days the temperature is set to soar.

Whilst it’s lovely to enjoy the hot weather beside a cool pool, with an ice-cold drink and with little or nothing to do, working in construction in this heat is an entirely different experience.

The increased temperatures can bring extra danger to your working day so you must ensure you are properly prepared for the heat; the guidance below will help keep you safe.

Stay out of the sun while it’s at its hottest

The sun is usually at its highest point between 10am-4pm and the rays are strongest between 1pm-3pm. So, in this case, work indoors in well-ventilated rooms at these times, if you can.

Wear sunscreen #coverupmate

Too much exposure to the sun can lead to skin damage including sunburn, blistering and skin aging and in the long term can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK with over 50,000 new cases every year. A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged, not of ‘healthy glow’. The damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight.  You should ensure you are wearing at least a factor 15 that protects against UVA and UVB rays and you must reapply the SPF regularly.

Take regular breaks in the shade

Take regularly scheduled breaks, seeking out the shade and fresh, cool air. Physical labour in warm weather can be grueling. Being on your feet all day will soon take its toll on you. It’s important that you allow enough time for rest and rehydration. Remove your personal protective equipment when resting to help encourage heat loss.

Stay hydrated

Drink water regularly, about every 15 minutes, as water helps to keep you cool. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink as dehydration may have already set in. Avoid sugary drinks, even if they say sugar-free, they decrease your body’s ability to store water and try to avoid caffeine as they are natural diuretics.

Environmental note: Rather than using single-use plastic bottles, buy a durable, aluminum bottle that will keep your water cooler for longer and remove the chance of the chemicals from a warm plastic getting into your drinking water.

Keep your snacks and meals out of the sun

Don’t leave food in the sun. When it is hot, bugs can multiply even quicker than normal, which increases the risk of food poisoning.

Even though you might have less appetite when it is warm, do not forget to eat at regular intervals as well. Not eating properly can intensify health-related problems. Also try to eat cold food such as salads and fruit, which contain water.

Beware of your surroundings

Be mindful of the environment you’re working in. Glass, water, concrete, and sand all reflect heat and UV rays and can, therefore, intensify exposure. When working around these reflective materials you should be mindful of the effect it will have on you.

Dress for hot conditions

Wear clothes that are light-coloured, loose-fitting and lightweight. Always wear a safety helmet on site, which also provides sun protection for your head.

 Protect yourself against heat stress

It is equally important to take precautions against heat stress. Heat stress arises when your body is not able to control its internal temperature.

Typical symptoms of heat stress include:

-Heat rashes

-Nausea

-Fainting

-Muscle cramp

-Extreme fatigue

-Headaches

Heatstroke is the most severe effect and can result in death if not treated early.

Factors that facilitate the occurrence of heat stress include hot air temperature, humidity and high work rate, which are common features on construction sites in the summer.

However, avoiding dehydration can reduce the risk of heat stress. Make sure you are drinking enough. Remember that thirst is a sign that the body is already dehydrated. As a guideline, the Food Standard Agency recommends drinking one to two litres of water every day. When being physically active or in hot weather, the fluid intake needs to be increased drinking up to one litre of water per hour.

 

If you have any concerns during these warmer days about anything you have read or been advised about speak to your Supervisor or Site Manager.  Your well being is of the upmost importance to us.

Resources used CCS Best Practise Hub, HSE website, NHS website