Ask the HR Department: Outdoor safety and sun exposure: how to keep employees protected

By HR and health & safety consultancy Peninsula Canada

Summer conditions can quickly become dangerous for outdoor workers. Excessive exposure to the sun can increase the risk of skin cancer. Heat exhaustion can occur. Dehydration in hot conditions is always a risk. Luckily, all of these conditions can be prevented. Below are tips on the proper preventive measures to ensure outside worker safety in summer conditions.

Check the weather. The best way to prepare for hot and sunny days is to simply check the weather. Being aware of the sun’s UV radiation can help prepare workers for the day by taking more steps to stay safe under the sun.

Make sure there is shade. Whether workers are out in the sun all day or for a couple of hours, having an area in the shade will help to avoid unnecessary UV exposure. Encourage workers to take breaks and sit under shade often to help them cool off. Limit their time spent working directly under the sun.

Eye protection. It is important to remember that UV radiation is harmful to the eyes, too. Provide workers with safety glasses, sunglasses, or prescription eyeglasses with UV-protective lenses to reduce the risk of possible eye damage.

Personal Protective Equipment. PPE is an essential component of keeping workers protected. Encourage workers to wear loose, protective clothing and hats that cover as much skin as possible. That includes the face, ears, and neck.

Is a policy needed for outdoor workers? If most employees work outdoors, then sun exposure prevention can be integrated in a “heat stress/working in warm environments policy.” This policy can include a range of simple protective measures and important information such as providing training for workers about UV radiation, which is only one of the factors that could lead to heat stress.

Peninsula is an HR and Health and Safety consulting firm serving over 80,000 small businesses worldwide, including dealers in home improvement. Clients are supported with ongoing updates to their workplace documentation and policies as legislation changes. Additionally, clients benefit from 24/7 employer HR advice and are protected by legal insurance.