According to government stats, there are around 3.1 million people working in construction. Construction workers are the most at risk during a heatwave due to working outdoors and at height.
Building maintenance company Spectrum has provided some top tips to keep safe when working outdoors during the heatwave.
1. Where possible, be strategic about where you are working on the building. Focus on working on the areas where there is more shade. If this is not possible you can create shade – by erecting a gazebo for example or other temporary shelter – to provide some relief from the sun.
2. Use time wisely; start earlier in the morning where possible when the air temperature will be cooler and end the day earlier before it gets too hot. Take regular breaks during the peak temperature hours.
3. Drink plenty of water – drinking water every 15 to 20 minutes is the best way to stay hydrated during a heatwave.
4. Wear sunscreen. It may sound basic but sunscreen is vital for those who are working in the heat. It can protect from sunburn and also heat stroke.
5. Take regular breaks to cool down. Allow your body some time to recover before you go back out into the heat.
6. Wear the correct clothing. Wearing engineered fabrics designed for working in the heat is key – such as fabrics that wick away sweat, protect from UV rays and reduce the heat load on the body. Wearing something that covers your head is also important to protect you from heatstroke.
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Unusually red skin
- High temperature
This is not a comprehensive list but comprises some of the main signs to look out for.
Lucian Ivan, a building maintenance specialist at Spectrum, commented: “Communication is key and often the area that is most lacking in health and safety matters. It is vital that all team members have been informed of the ways to keep safe during a heatwave, what they should do if they are feeling unwell, and just importantly, not to feel isolated.
“As employers or managers who are in charge of organising and delegating the work, our main responsibility is to make sure our teams are fully informed and are working in a safe manner. Just as important is ensuring everyone is commutating back to managers and team leaders what is happening and as it happens. No one should feel pressured to do something they shouldn’t be doing, for example, if they are getting signs of heatstroke they should stop working immediately and report it. Being sensible and looking after each other is key.”