The temperatures in the UK this summer have been on the extreme side, and the UK’s ten warmest years on record have all occurred since 2002, and overall, the world is heating up, with the hottest ever temperature of 54.4ºC was recorded in Death Valley in June this year.
While it’s very unlikely you’ll be working in Death Valley, scientists are warning that the UK could see temperatures of 40ºC and above within the next decade, meaning that employers and employees alike need to be ready to recognise and manage the risks.
Be educated about sun protection
Despite the risks of skin damage from the harmful UV rays of the sun, the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust reports that cases of skin cancer are rising faster than any other common cancer, meaning it is vital that outdoor workers understand the risks and how to protect themselves.
Thankfully, skin cancer is almost entirely preventable, and there are measures to take to stay safe in the sun, including keeping t-shirts and tops on, wearing a hat that covers areas vulnerable to sunburn, such as the ears and the back of the neck, staying in the shade wherever possible, using a high factor sunscreen, and checking the skin regularly for unusual moles and spots.
Be alert to heat-related illnesses
Heat-related illnesses increase with the temperatures, and heat stress can include minor issues like heat cramp and heat rash, as well as more severe conditions such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Treating heat exhaustion quickly can reverse the effects but a blood temperature rise above 39.5°C can turn into a heatstroke, which is a medical emergency. Regular training can help workers to recognise and respond to the signs of heat-related illnesses.
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