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Sun safety: A construction workers guide

As a construction worker in the UK, you’re no stranger to working long hours under the sun’s intense rays. While soaking up some vitamin D can be enjoyable, prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to serious health risks. That’s why it’s crucial to prioritise sun safety on the construction site. 

Here at Tradesman Saver, we explore the importance of sun protection and provide practical tips to help you stay safe while working outdoors.

Why is sun protection crucial for construction workers?

Construction workers are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of the sun due to the nature of their work. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), construction workers constitute a significant portion of occupational skin cancer diagnoses and deaths each year. The risks associated with sun exposure include:

  • Sunburn
  • Skin cancer
  • Premature ageing
  • Heat-related illnesses (e.g., heat exhaustion, heatstroke)

As a construction worker, it’s essential to recognise these risks and take proactive measures to protect yourself while on the job.

What are the legal responsibilities of employers regarding sun safety?

Under the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015, employers have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workers on construction sites. This includes providing adequate  safety training, supervision, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise the risks associated with sun exposure.

Employers must conduct risk assessments and implement appropriate control measures to create a safer working environment. They should also provide workers with the necessary information, instruction, and training to work safely and without risk to their health.

How can construction workers protect themselves against the sun?

As a construction worker, there are several practical steps you can take to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays:

Wear protective clothing

Opt for loose-fitting, lightweight, and breathable clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats are excellent choices for sun protection. Look for materials with a high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating.

Apply suncream regularly

Use a broad-spectrum suncream with an SPF of at least 30. Apply it generously to all exposed areas of skin, including your face, neck, ears, and hands. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you’re sweating heavily or working near water.

Wear sunglasses

Protect your eyes from UV radiation by wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound styles offer the best protection by preventing sunlight from entering through the sides.

Take breaks in the shade

Whenever possible, take breaks in shaded areas, especially during the hottest parts of the day (typically between 11 am and 3 pm). If natural shade is unavailable, consider using temporary shade structures or pop-up tents.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration and heat-related illnesses. Aim for at least 8 glasses (2 litres) of water per day, and increase your intake during hot weather or strenuous activity.

How can you promote sun safety on site?

As a construction worker, you can play an active role in promoting sun safety among your colleagues:

  • Lead by example: Consistently follow sun safety practices and encourage others to do the same.
  • Share your knowledge: Educate your co-workers about the importance of sun protection and the risks associated with sun exposure.
  • Speak up: If you notice someone neglecting sun safety measures, kindly remind them of the importance of protecting their skin and eyes.
  • Participate in safety meetings: Actively contribute to discussions about sun safety during toolbox talks and safety meetings.

By fostering a culture of sun safety on the construction site, you can help create a safer and healthier working environment for everyone.

What should you do if suspect a sun related health issue?

 If you notice any unusual changes in your skin, such as new moles, persistent redness, or itching, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly. Early detection and treatment of skin cancer can significantly improve outcomes.

If you experience symptoms of heat-related illnesses, such as dizziness, nausea, or confusion, notify your supervisor immediately and move to a cool, shaded area. Drink plenty of water and seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.

Tradesman Saver: Your partner in protection

By prioritising sun safety and following the guidelines outlined in this guide, you can significantly reduce your risk of sun-related health issues and ensure a long, successful career in the construction industry.

At Tradesman Saver, we understand the unique risks faced by construction workers and other tradespeople. That’s why we offer comprehensive insurance policies tailored to your specific needs, including public liability insurance starting at less than £54* per year.

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We want to hear from you! Share your sun safety tips, experiences, and insights in the comments below. 

Dean Laming

Dean Laming is a Chartered Insurance Broker with more than 25 years insurance experience. Through various underwriting, operational and management roles, Dean has built up extensive knowledge of how to run a business and is now Managing Director of Tradesman Saver, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Dean Laming

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