How to keep staff healthy and productive in the summer months
Everyone loves summer. With its warm and sunny days and longer evenings, it’s a season that’s renowned for boosting happiness, and many of us flock to the outdoors to make the most of its good weather.
However, for people who have to work through high temperatures for prolonged periods of time, summer can often cause discomfort and stress. This is particularly true of industrial employees, and those working in construction. In these situations, getting the balance right for employees is paramount to encouraging motivation and maintaining productivity.
As the warmer months approach, take a look at some of the risks to employees during hot spells and how you can protect workers to sustain their efficiency.
Common concerns for employees during summer months
Working outdoors in hot temperatures and direct sunlight can have a negative impact on an employee’s health. These risks can involve sunburn, sunstroke, and dehydration if appropriate precautions are not taken. Hot indoor environments are also a potential risk to health and can lead to overheating and feeling tired more frequently.
Ways prevent issues in hot environments
To ensure employees are adequately protected, there are several things that they both employers and workers can do to make environments more comfortable. These include:
- Provide employees with access to cold water and drinking facilities to ensure hydration is topped up
- Employees should take regular breaks
- Reschedule tasks so that some can be carried out at cooler times of the day
- Ensure employees remove heavy protective clothing during breaks to cool themselves down
- Encourage workers to use sunscreen and wear suitable headwear to cover the neck area (if not affecting protective headgear). Just think of the famous seagull in the original SunSmart advert; “Slip, Slop, Slap! Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat”!
Helping employees recognise the effects of heat stress
During the working day, employees may not realise the effects of heat stress until it starts to physically affect their ability to work. As an employer, there is a duty of care to employees and educating them sufficiently will ensure you maintain their motivation and productivity during a hot spell. By highlighting the signs of heat stress, this can prepare workers to take action before further issues occur. Here are some of the areas to cover:
- Advising the use of sunscreen even on cloudy days, as sunburn may still occur
- Highlighting the signs of heatstroke including a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea and high body temperature
- Helping them to recognise heat exhaustion symptoms such as heavy sweating, paleness, fatigue, and cramps
- Noticing heat rash and reducing it by keeping cool and reducing sweat levels
There are several heat-related ailments to protect employees from and ensuring they can spot early signs will reduce further illness due to overheating.
Providing lightweight personal protective clothing
In some working environments, it is vital that protective workwear is worn to carry out the job. By ensuring your workforce has adequate access to lightweight and functional options is ideal for maintaining an uninterrupted level of work and overall comfort for employees. At phs Besafe, our workwear can be tailored to the environment while fully adhering to health and safety requirements. By providing your staff with suitable protective clothing for use in a range of temperatures, it will ensure that you don’t lose out to less productive days and staff absences.