How to stay safe at work this summer
The great British summer is finally upon us and it’s time to make the most of the sunshine and the warmer weather. With the hot weather, we can often experience quite extreme temperatures and it's wise to take precautions when exposed to the sun and heat.
When working, heat can also come from other sources besides the sun, such as machinery and equipment found in bakeries, factories, laundries and restaurant kitchens.
Working in the sun or hot conditions can lead to heat exhaustion, here's how to recognise the symptoms and give first aid for heat exhaustion.
What is heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion happens when someone loses fluid and salt through excessive sweating, which is the body's way of trying to cool down when it's too hot – e.g. due to: being in a hot, humid environment, not being accustomed to the heat and other factors, such as physical exertion.
What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?
- The person may be dizzy or confused and complain of a headache.
- They may be sweating and have pale, cool skin.
- They may feel nauseous.
How to help someone with heat exhaustion
If you think someone may have heat exhaustion, you can help them by following three simple steps.
1. Help the person to a cool place and get them to rest.
This will help them start to cool down.
Helping the person to lie down and raise their legs can help them stop feeling dizzy.
2. Give them plenty of water to drink.
Tell them to take small sips regularly.
Isotonic sports drinks are even better as they will also help to replace salts lost through sweating.
3. Seek medical advice.
Even if the person appears to recover fully, advise them to seek medical advice. If their condition deteriorates, call 999 for emergency help.
Those who work outside for long periods of time such as farm or construction workers and gardeners, will be exposed to more sun, increasing their risk of getting sunburnt. Prevention is better than cure, but if your colleague does get sunburnt, here’s what to do:
What to do
- Cover your skin with light clothing or a towel and help them move into the share, or indoors if possible.
- Have frequent sips of cold water. Cool the affected skin by dabbing with cold water.
- Once cooled, you can apply after sun lotion to burns that are minor
Heatstroke happens when someone gets so hot that their body can’t control their temperature. It’s very serious so if you suspect your colleague has heatstroke, you’ll need to act quickly.
What are the symptoms of heat stroke?
A person with heatstroke may:
- have hot, flushed and dry skin
- have a headache, feel dizzy or be confused and restless
- get worse quickly and become unresponsive.
What to do
1. Call 999 immediately or get someone else to do it.
2. Cool them. Quickly move them into a cool environment and remove outer clothing. Wrap them in a cold, wet sheet and keep pouring water over them.
3. Keep cooling them while waiting for help to arrive. If their temperature returns to normal and they no longer feel hot to touch, you can stop cooling them.
First aid doesn’t have to be complicated, you can learn via a few different methods:
Book a course – our first aid at work courses give you the skills and confidence to respond to a range of first aid emergencies, including helping someone who is suffering from a heat related illness.
First aid apps – download our apps which are packed with useful videos, animations and tips. Each skill only takes a few minutes to learn.
Online annual refresher course - request an e-learning licence and learn online in your own time, at work or at home.
Our first aid pack is crammed full of information including quizzes and step by step first aid skill guides.