The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has this week called on employers to ensure their staff working outdoors are protected from the heat and sun, as temperatures are expected to soar above 30°C in parts of the UK.
The new report, Cool It, published this week by the TUC, says that staff working outside in the warm weather are at risk of sunstroke, sunburn and skin cancer.
The union also warned that dehydration, tiredness, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting and loss of consciousness could occur if employees were not properly protected during the heatwave.
The TUC suggested a number of measures employers could implement, working with union health and safety representatives, to protect workers, including allowing staff to take frequent breaks and providing a supply of drinking water and sunscreen.
The union also suggests reviewing times of outside work to avoid the period between 11am and 3pm when temperatures are at their highest.
Advice should also be given – and made available in other languages for migrant workers – on the need to stay protected from the sun and heat, and avoiding exposure to UV radiation.
Employers should also provide lightweight brimmed hats for outdoor workers, and where protective clothing is provided, should ensure that this is long-sleeved and lightweight, but dense enough to protect UV rays from getting through.
The report also revealed the risks of working in heat for workers whose job involves driving. Heat can cause fatigue, which can be dangerous for all drivers and can make driving employees a risk to themselves and other. They should be provided with vehicles with air conditioning, or if they are likely to be stuck in traffic for any length of time, ensure they are not driving in very hot weather.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working outdoors in sweltering conditions can be unbearable and dangerous and bosses must ensure their staff are protected as much as possible, with regular breaks, lots of fluids, plenty of sunscreen and the right protective clothing.”