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Employers urged to protect outdoor workers in the hot weather

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As temperatures are set to soar to 30 degrees in parts of the UK this week, the TUC is urging bosses to make sure that any staff working outdoors are protected from the sun and the heat.


The TUC says that workers like builders, agricultural workers and gardeners who are outside for lengthy periods in high temperatures are at risk of sunstroke, sunburn and even skin cancer.

Working in hot weather can also lead to dehydration, tiredness, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting, and – in the most extreme cases – loss of consciousness.

In the hot sun, work should be planned so outside tasks are done earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon

Advice

Employers can work with their health and safety union reps, suggests the TUC, and introduce the following measures to protect their staff who work outdoors when the temperatures rise:

  • Allow staff to take plenty of breaks and provide a supply of drinking water
  • Organise work so outside tasks are done earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon, rather than between 11am-3pm when temperatures are highest
  • Provide canopies or covering over open areas and shaded areas for breaks
  • Ensure that outdoor workers have sunscreen and are given advice on the need to protect themselves from the heat and sun – and it would be helpful if the advice is available in other languages for migrant workers
  • Provide lightweight brimmed hats for all outdoor workers and make sure that any protective clothing is lightweight, long-sleeved and comfortable.

TUC general secretary, Frances O'Grady  said: "We all love to see the sunshine. But working outdoors in sweltering conditions can be unbearable and dangerous.

"Bosses must ensure their staff are protected with regular breaks, lots of fluids, plenty of sunscreen and the right protective clothing.”

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