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What can employers do to deal with the weather warnings in red?

A red warning for weather that is the highest of levels, is currently in place for London and York, the Midlands, Manchester and York for the next Monday and Tuesday of next week. What do employers have to do?

Gavin Scarr Hall, Director of Health and Safety at Peninsula says “It’s essential that employers prepare for the heat wave that is coming by conducting an assessment of risks. Employers who have employees working outdoors will have to think about whether or how they will be able to remain safe during the expected temperatures.

“To accomplish this, they’ll have to take into consideration the temperature and the workload that day, and also the health and age of the employees.

“In some workplaces , there might be equipment that generates more heat, such as ovens machines, tools, or ovens that must be considered.

“Your first priority should be to reduce the risk as far as is possible. This can be accomplished through shifting work to later or earlier in the day, easing dress codes, or giving additional breaks throughout the day.

“In temperatures that are as high as those forecasted, it’s easy to become dehydrated. It is important that employees are provided with cool water and advised to drink plenty of water prior to or after work. Fizzy and caffeinated drinks can dehydrate you if you attempt to motivate employees to drink more water.

“At high temperatures, employees could get sleepy and lose awareness of the dangers in their surroundings. This could increase the chance of falling and slipping and injuries from hand tools and other equipment.

“This is the result of heat stress , when the body’s mechanism for managing its internal temperature begins to fail. Temperature of the air, work speed, humidity and even work attire are causes of excessive heat.

“Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature is raised to 41°C. When this occurs, it can affect your coordination of your nervous system and the thermal regulation mechanism. In certain instances the heat stroke can pose a danger of death due to respiratory or cardiac arrest. It may result in liver failure, and should always treat as an urgent situation.

Signs of heatstroke to be aware of may include:

  • extreme temp. of your body (above 39.5degC)
  • Red, hot dry, and hot face (no sweating)
  • Rapid, powerful pulse
  • throbbing headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • unconsciousness

“Although typically mild, sunburns can carry risks. If the skin begins to blister or fills up with fluid or has a fever, get medical attention immediately.”

“If the worst happens, ensure that the person affected is taken to a cooler area immediately. Give essential first-aid until medical assistance arrives, and then take the patient into the medical facility as fast as is possible. Begin by lowering their body temperature, taking off some of their clothing (if needed) or by using a towel that has been soaked in cold water or by blowing them. If they’re unconscious, put them in a position that allows for recovery. Do not offer them food or drinks and then send their body to the nearest hospital as fast as you can.”

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