The UK is set to experience heatwave conditions again this year, and multiple times. The effects of the climate crisis are becoming increasingly clear to the public eye, as more demand action against carbon emissions. But heatwaves aren’t the only way in which our climate is changing. The winters are also set to become colder, and disruptive weather will become more likely. For those that work outdoors, weather will become more of a consideration; what can be done to protect against the elements?
Dress for the Weather
When working outdoors, your attire is naturally one of the more important considerations with regard to safety. We already make attire decisions based on the weather in everyday life, and working outdoors is no different – except for that more thought should be put into work attire.
Here, it is also important to mention that work attire decisions should not be solely yours to make. Where an employer requires you to work outdoors, whatever the conditions may be, they are also legally required by health and safety regulation to ensure your safety in work. This includes the provision of personal protective equipment, or PPE, as well as any training in its proper use.
Such PPE for outdoor working would include hi-vis jackets and vest for visibility in low-light conditions, and all-weather boots to keep you warm and protected in colder conditions. Layers are vital to retaining body heat, particularly in colder and wetter conditions; certain materials alone, such as cotton, can wick heat from the body when wet. Wearing a thermal base layer top helps trap your body heat in, while additional layers provide additional insulation and protection from wind or rain.
Take Regular Breaks
Your employers are also responsible for ensuring you are able to take regular breaks and have access to shelter and other amenities during such breaks. In both harsh summer and deep winter, this is an extremely important provision to access. Regular breaks keep you from feeling the cold of winter too much, and ensure you retain motor control in your extremities. In the summer, extended periods of time in the sun can lead to sun damage and heat exhaustion, making hydration and shade vital.
Education and Training
Finally, education is crucial to safety. Again, it is an employer’s responsibility to provide this training where weather poses a health and safety risk in your line of work. However, educating yourself on the risks of certain weather conditions can only help you remain safe and present on-site. Receiving the right training as a team is also important so that all members of the team are equipped with the same knowledge in the event of an accident or incident.
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