Health and Safety When Working Outside

Maintaining a high level of health and safety is a vital goal no matter what business you are running. Still, you will be presented with unique challenges when your work involves outdoor operations.

Maintaining a high level of health and safety is a vital goal no matter what business you are running. Still, you will be presented with unique challenges when your work involves outdoor operations.

As the seasons change along with the unpredictable weather, site managers must be adaptable and adjust the planned work processes accordingly. For example, health and safety in winter will be quite different from summer’s requirements.

man watching constructionUnpredictable Working Conditions

 

The primary consideration when conducting work outside is the state of the current environment. Assessing the area is a concept that is also important when working indoors. Still, when working outdoors, you lose the controlled predictability of your cultivated indoor area and exchange it for the erratic weather patterns of the current season. For example, unexpected rain could suddenly increase the risk of certain operations, such as any team members working at height. In addition, when working outdoors, the worker’s effectiveness can be affected if you are unprepared for bad weather. Alternatively, your rain gear will be inappropriate for an unexpected hot sunny day. Therefore, you should ensure that you have contingencies for both situations and enough PPE for concerning both for your whole team.

UK Government Regulations

 

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations of 1992 cover a wide range of common issues for most workplaces, including working outside. This regulation gives employers a general responsibility of care for their employed people as well as guidelines on how to achieve this best. For construction work, this regulation is amended with:

  • The Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002
  • The Work at Height Regulations 2005
  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007

As part of our health and safety advice for small businesses, we highly recommend conducting a daily risk assessment on your work site. It will allow you to preemptively prepare for any potential eventualities that the weather may throw at you.

Guideline for Sun Exposure

very hot construction workerNot all outdoor health and safety injuries are immediately apparent. During summer, sun exposure can severely concern people working outdoors. Outdoor workers are 2-3 times more likely to suffer from skin cancer due to increased exposure to UV rays. Incorporating UV protection into your outdoor health and safety plans will help protect your valuable employees as they conduct their operations.

The most immediate sign of skin damage is a mild reddening, which can lead to sunburn that blisters the skin and makes it peel. Repeated exposure without protection will speed up the visible ageing of your skin, making it leathery, mottled and wrinkled, which is separate to the increased risk of developing skin cancer.

As part of our safety compliance services, we advise that you supply your team with protective clothing suited to heat. For example, this means hats with brims or flaps that can cover the vulnerable skin on the ears and the back of the neck. This also means encouraging your workers to not take their shirts off despite the heat; instead, supply them with thin, ventilated shirts to keep most of their skin covered. Any skin unavoidably on show (such as hands and faces) should be covered with a high-factor sunscreen. SPF 15 or higher will help protect those exposed areas.

Beyond the physical protection, there are other considerations when working outside. For example, dehydration is a severe problem that increases with the temperature. A practical daily risk assessment should make it easy to decide the extra breaks required for your workers so they can cool off and rehydrate.

Guidelines for Rain

lady construction worker in the rainUnfortunately, not every summer’s day in the UK can be pleasant. Therefore, knowing how to adapt your health and safety plans to the challenges of a rainy day is essential for conducting outdoor operations. Poor visibility, wet slippery surfaces, and strong winds can make work significantly more complex and hazardous.

Providing appropriate clothing is essential. Investing in adequate rain gear such as waterproof coats and trousers will help protect your team from the elements and allow them to work carefully. Without them, people may be tempted to run from shelter to shelter and risk accidental collisions or falls. Waterproof gloves with added grip are also effective, as they will assist your team when handling their machines on-site and prevent more accidents.

Investing in the proper footwear will prevent many slips during wet weather, whether your outdoor work is on smooth concrete or rough ground. Boots with deep treads are an excellent choice as they will provide the desired traction. Additionally, choosing boots that extend above the ankle will help prevent your feet inside from becoming damp from rainfall.

Summer storms can ruin visibility, limiting it to a short distance. In addition, the wind and rain will make it difficult for passing pedestrians or vehicles to be aware of their surroundings. Supplying high-visibility PPE such as reflective hoods or vests will give your team peace of mind so they can focus on their work.

competant person with clipboardAt Armadillo Safety Solutions, we pride ourselves on the effectiveness of our health and safety training in London. By choosing us for your safety compliance, you will be selecting a comprehensive service that will adapt to suit the unique needs of your business, thereby providing you with the results you need.

You can learn more about how our health and safety consultants in kent, Essex and London can help protect your team while working outside online .