The warmer temperatures and long days of summer provide employers with an opportunity to accomplish various outdoor tasks that might not be possible during colder parts of the year. However, it’s important that organisations across all sectors are aware of the dangers that summer conditions can pose to workers.
Heat-related illness can result in severe consequences, including death. One of the most severe types of heat-related illness is heat stroke. Heat stroke can occur when a person’s body has depleted its supply of water and salt. The affected individual’s core body temperature may then begin to rise to deadly levels. Symptoms of heat stroke may include:
- Hot, red or flushed dry skin
- A rapid pulse
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting or confusion
- A body temperature greater than 38C
Because of how dangerous heat stroke can be, it’s of the utmost importance that employers take all necessary precautions to minimise heat-related dangers.
As such, employers should consider the following steps:
- Educate employees. Train employees to not only monitor themselves for symptoms of heat-related illness, but also to properly determine whether a colleague may be in danger.
- Schedule tasks appropriately. Schedule the most physically taxing tasks during cooler parts of the day, such as in the early morning and evening.
- Acclimatise workers. Acclimatisation is a process during which workers are gradually introduced to a warm work environment in order to help their bodies safely adjust to the conditions.
- Provide water. Offer plenty of cool water and encourage workers to drink regularly in order to stay hydrated.
- Create opportunities for relief. Provide shade or another means of shelter located out of direct sunlight. Have employees take frequent breaks to cool off.
Contains public sector information published by the HSE and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. The content of this blog is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances or jurisdiction. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice from their own legal counsel. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. Content by Zywave, Inc. provided by TH March.