Working in hot weather

February 15, 2018

Did you know that New Zealand has the highest melanoma rate in the world, with more than 4000 Kiwis diagnosed with it each year? More than 300 people also die from it annually.  

To help prevent damage from the sun, including melanoma, you should always:

  • wear a broad spectrum SPF sunscreen and reapply it at least every two hours
  • cover up with loose-fitting clothes
  • wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and a wide brimmed hat to protect your neck and face

Employers with staff based outdoors should also look at providing shade options. Sun shades, umbrellas and tarpaulins can all be affordable options that will help shield workers from the harm of UV rays and keep them feeling a bit cooler. Or, look at providing lightweight uniforms that help cover the skin and helmets that have visors or flaps.

You can use the sun protection alert tool from SunSmart which lets you know the peak times of the day to protect yourself.

Working in extreme heat can cause heat stroke particularly if your body overheats through a combination of exposure to the sun, poor ventilation, and strenuous activity. Symptoms of heat stroke can include:

  • sudden rise in body temperature
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • dizziness or confusion
  • rapid pulse
  • loss of coordination

SafeTree have released a fact sheet for keeping safe from the heat at work. It outlines to:

  • schedule the most physically demanding tasks for the coolest part of the day or, try to share the load by rotating workers
  • use fans or air conditioning in crew huts or vehicles
  • keep hydrated and carry a water bottle with you.

Having a clear procedure in place for extreme weather should also be a consideration. A lot of outdoor jobs wouldn’t go ahead in the pouring rain or snow and it should be the same for the other end of the weather spectrum.

For more information on keeping safe in hot weather, check out the Cancer Society website

Filed under Workplace Wellness

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