As a roofer, working safely in sunlight is a much bigger consideration that you may realise. It is rare for you to spend any working indoors. Most of the time you’re outside, on top of a building, in the open air. AND, because you’ll tend to do most of your work when the weather is dry, you’ll often be working in sunlight, especially during the summer months. For some reason people don’t have a problem remembering to protect themselves when they’re lying on a beach, but find it much easier to forget when they’re working on a roof.
Working Safely In Sunlight
The most effective way to protect your skin is to cover up. Clothing can protect your skin so cover as much of it as possible. Of course, you need to make sure you can stay cool at the same time. Loose fitting, light coloured (ideally white) clothing is a must at this time of year. As tempting as it is to take your shirt off you should keep the time short. 15-30 minutes is as long as you should go without covering up again.
The next obvious thing to do is to make sure your staff have sunscreen. They need to use at least factor 15 if you expect them to be out all day. You should write it into the method statement for the job in question and make sure top ups are freely available. Attach dispensers to scaffolding and make sure there are extra bottles that are easy to see and find.
Both of these things (clothing and sunscreen) should be written into both the risk assessment and the method statement for the work to be done. Include it in any site inductions you do.
Take Extra Care With Your Neck
The back of your neck is particularly vulnerable. The blood vessels pass very close to the surface of your skin at this point. This makes the blood being carried to you brain warmer and can cause serious problems. This is a huge factor in heat stroke. If you can, keep your neck covered. A hat with the peak facing backwards, a thin hooded top or even turning your collar up can all help to give your neck a break.
The 6 Key Steps For Working Safely In Sunlight
The 6 steps to take to ensure the safety of your staff are
- Keep your top on. This provides an effective barrier to the harmful UV from the sun
- Wear a hat that covers your neck and, if possible, ears as these are the most vulnerable parts of your head
- Stay in the shade when you can, especially during breaks and when you have lunch
- Use sunscreen of at least factor 15
- Stay hydrated – drink plenty throughout the day even if it’s not that hot out.
- Make sure your staff regularly check their skin, looking for any moles or spots that are changing shape, itching, bleeding etc. If they are concerned about anything they must see a doctor as soon as possible.
Remember that it’s possible to burn even when it’s not that hot. If you’re working in direct sunlight then the time of year doesn’t matter. You MUST take the same precautions.
You can see more on the HSE website by clicking here.
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