Summer has arrived a little late for most of us. Holidays are over, the school term is in full swing and most of us are back at work, indoors. However for a large number of workers the day is spent outside and this can present a few extra health and safety challenges. So whether you are an employer or an employee, a vineyard worker, road worker, landscaper or construction worker think about the additional risks a job outside can cause.
Around 300 New Zealanders die of melanoma every year
Unfortunately, New Zealand has one of the highest melanoma rates in the world. Make sure that you and your staff are aware that exposure to our harsh UV rays can lead to melanoma or other skin cancers. Not all employees may be native to New Zealand and know these risks.
As an employer could you provide a good quality sunscreen, long sleeve clothing made of breathable material or hats and/or neck protectors to minimise the chances of getting sunburn? Ensure that the staff know the risks so that they don’t take their hats or shirts off when they get out of sight.
Get your workers to wear sunglasses. Do you need to provide safety sunglasses? If their job involves the risk of loose, flying materials a pair of UV rated safety sunglasses will have good impact protection and minimise sun damage to the eyes.
Minimise sun exposure by providing sunshades or shelter over the working positions where practicable.
Common Myths about Skin Cancer:
- You cannot get skin cancer if it’s cloudy or through a window.
- People with dark skin do not get skin cancer.
- Fake tan will protect you from UV exposure.
- You need to be outside to get Vitamin D from the sunshine.
Dehydration and Heat stroke
On average 14 people die a year from heat-related causes
Like paint your body dries quickly in the heat and sunshine. If heat exhaustion is not dealt with quickly, it can progress to heat stroke, which can be life-threatening.
Working in confined spaces like underfloor, ceiling or roof work will increase the risk of heat exhaustion. Ensure there is adequate airflow through these areas, use fans or air conditioning to provide ventilation.
Humidity increases the likelihood of heat exhaustion as much as the actual temperature. High humidity prevents sweat from evaporating, so that the body has more difficulty cooling itself.
To prevent heat exhaustion:
- Drink water every 15 minutes even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinking too much coffee, sugary drinks or alcohol as these can be dehydrating.
- Take regular breaks in the shade.
- Take extra precautions with certain medications
Make sure your workers know the signs of heat exhaustion before it becomes heatstroke. Heat stroke victims usually don’t recognise their own symptoms.
- Clammy or sweaty skin
- Darker coloured urine
- Pounding or rapid pulse
- Muscle cramps
- Feeling weak or dizzy
Heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heat stroke. Indicators of heatstroke include:
- Mood changes or confusion
- Loss of balance, fainting
- Dry, red skin
Call us now to find out how SiteApp can limit the risk to you and your employees. Create a heat stress checklist which can be completed on site quickly and easily via a smartphone or tablet.