Personal Injury

Working Outside in Summer: Staying Safe

Estimated read time: 3 mins

Carrie Tennick, June 11, 2021

Working outdoors in summer may not be as risky in the UK as it is in hotter regions – but there are certainly still safety concerns to pay attention to.

From sunburn to dehydration, the warmer months present a range of hazards to workers.

We asked what people were most concerned about when it comes to summer working – here’s what they said.

Staying hydrated

First4Lawyers recently polled 1,632 people about their biggest concerns around summer working. Staying hydrated was the top worry for most, with 36.2% reporting that.

To avoid this, make sure you have enough water to see you through your working day. If you struggle to drink enough, you could benefit from reminders to stop for a sip. This could be alerts on your phone or a simple sticky note on a piece of equipment.

If your employer doesn’t provide water, you can take this up with them. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that “an adequate supply of high-quality drinking water, with an upward jet or suitable cups, should be provided”.

When an employer doesn’t provide this, and questions have already been raised, any potential health issues that then happen as a result of dehydration could be down to your employer.

Overheating

The second biggest concern for summer working was overheating, with 31.7% of poll respondents saying they considered this a hazard.

Heat stress can result in physical issues, including heat rash, fainting, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke – which can be fatal in the worst cases.

Employers should do all they reasonably can to make things easier for employees when working in hot temperatures. This can include providing mechanical aids to reduce high levels of work rate, preventing dehydration by providing water and monitoring the health of workers who are at risk.

If an employer does not carry out the necessary risk assessment when you are working in hot temperatures, they could be held responsible for any health problems you end up suffering.

Sunburn

Sunburn was the third most worrying aspect of working outside in summer. Some 27.9% of voters in our poll said this was their biggest concern.

Minimising the risk of sunburn involves staying indoors as much as possible, wearing clothes that cover as much of your skin as possible and applying sun cream regularly. Serious sunburns can increase your long-term risk of skin cancer, so it’s important to reduce your risk.

Your employer should help you do this by providing the appropriate personal protective equipment when working outside.

But it’s also important that you wear the right clothing. Doing what you can to keep your risk of sunburn – and the serious consequences they can have – as low as possible is hugely important to your overall long-term health.

What should your employer do?

The HSE has a number of recommendations for working in hot environments. The first thing your employer should do is carry out a risk assessment. This will give them the chance to identify any hazards to your health.

Employers should then take the necessary actions to keep you and your colleagues safe. This could include allowing frequent rest breaks and facilities for changing into dry clothes, if your work makes you sweat a lot.

They could also reschedule outdoor work to cooler times of the day, if possible, or create shaded areas where you are working.

Your employer should also inform you and your colleagues about the symptoms of heat stress. This could help your team recognise when someone might not be handling the hot weather, which could then help them prevent a serious health problem.

How First4Lawyers could help

If your employer has not carried out any kind of risk assessment for outdoor working in summer and has not introduced any measures to ensure safety, they could be held responsible for any accidents or illnesses that then happen.

When this happens to you, you could be entitled to make a compensation claim. First4Lawyers could help.

To speak to our understanding claims advisors about taking legal action for what happened, just give us a call or start your claim online and we’ll get back to you.

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