2022-06-23 13:06

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CWU Urges Outdoor Workers: Be Sun Smart

Updated - First issued in 2013

The headline says it all and indeed is more relevent today and will be so as global warming continues to cause temperature surges in the weather.

The Union remains concerned for those CWU members working outdoors in these extreme temperatures - engineers and post personnel - having to endure temperatures of up to 80 F with little shade in the majority of cases.

Pic: Sun safe poster from CWU - click to downloadThe CWU’s campaign about the importance of safe working in extreme weather has been re-launched to make sure members are aware of the risks associated with overexposure to heat and sunshine.

In particular dehydration is a real risk. It is recommended by the HSE that outdoor workers in the current temperatures need to drink around 250 ml (half a pint) every 15 minutes or 500 ml (a pint) every 30 minutes.

Soft fizzy drinks only serve to speed up the dehydration process and should be avoided as should alcoholic drinks at lunch times.

One aspect of working in sunshine is often forgotten - the affect of sunlight on the eyes.

Wherever possible, unless it restricts vision when doing delicate work, e.g. cable work; sun glasses should be worn to protect the eyes from sunlight. This is especially true for those with blue eyes, as they are more sensitive than brown eyes for example.

Your sunglasses should have the CE mark on them (British Standard BS EN 1836:2005) which ensures that they are giving you the right level of ultraviolet protection – so forget many of the fashion statement type sunglasses. It is also important that children’s eyes should also be protected by wearing good quality sunglasses – whether you take your kids to work with you or not!

Never look at the sun directly, even when something exciting is happening, such as an eclipse. Doing so can cause irreversible damage to your eyesight and even lead to blindness. Several studies also suggest that sunlight exposure is a risk factor for cataracts.

When working overhead, or having to look up to do the work, it is very important to shield your eyes from direct sunlight and especially the sun itself if it is subsequently anywhere within your field of vision. Damage caused by sunlight is irreversible and can occur very quickly from direct sunlight falling on the field of vision.

Wearing a wide-brimmed hat (but not in place of a hard hat) or sunglasses can help to protect your eyes from UV rays. The College of Optometrists recommends buying good quality, dark sunglasses (these needn’t be expensive).

image:dave joyceCWU health and safety officer Dave Joyce cautions on the dangers of working outdoors in the current temperatures:

"Working outdoors in hot summer months poses special hazards for outdoor workers who must be protected against heat stress, sun exposure, dehydration and other hazards.

The issue of working in extreme weather conditions has been repeatedly raised with employers, particularly Royal Mail, and a motion passed at this year's annual conference committed the union to seek provision of sunscreen for all staff who work outdoors. Royal Mail need to make sure our delivery workforce know the potential hazards and how to manage them.”

Dave added:

"We urge all our members to make the necessary provisions to work safely by covering up exposed areas of skin where possible, where a factor of at least 15, but preferably 30, sunscreen and make sure they have enough water on them when out on their rounds. I would also suggest taking short breaks in shaded areas if out during 11am - 15:00pm - the times when UV rays are most intense.

"If you are unsure about any of the advice provided speak to your health and safely rep before you head outdoors."

Source: CWU / NHS Choices / HSE

You can download advice on working in the sun and working indoors in high temperatures from the E-Library Database here

Pic: Bak to News icon link

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