The UK's longest heatwave since 1976 is forecast to intensify, with forecasters predicting soaring temperatures until, at least the end of August.
So, as water levels continue to fall in many of the UK's reservoirs and rail companies being disrupted because of high track temperatures, what can you do to ensure you stay safe during our unprecedented British summer?
Outdoor workers that could be at risk include farm or construction workers, market gardeners, outdoor activity workers and some public service workers. You should take particular care if you have:
• Fair or freckled skin that doesn’t tan, or goes red or burns before it tans;
• Red or fair hair and light coloured eyes;
• A large number of moles.
Even mild reddening of the skin from sun exposure is a sign of damage!
What can you do to protect yourself?
• Cover up. Ordinary clothing made from close-woven fabric, such as a long-sleeved work shirt and jeans, will stop most of the UV.
• Wear a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck. A safety helmet will provide some shade for the head. A hanging flap can protect the back of your neck.
• Stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks and especially at lunch time.
• Use a high factor sunscreen cream or lotion as this can add useful protection for parts of your body that are not easy to shade from the sun. Look for a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of 15 or more as it protects against UVA and UVB.
• Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
• Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor promptly if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding.
If you have any kind of medical check-up tell the doctor that you have an outdoor job and ask if there are any suspicious signs on your skin.
As an Employer you can:
• Include sun protection advice in routine health and safety training. Inform workers that a tan is not healthy - it is a sign that skin has already been damaged by the sun.
• Encourage workers to take their breaks in the shade, if possible, rather than staying out in the sun.
• Consider scheduling work to minimise exposure.
• Site water points and rest areas in the shade.
• Encourage workers to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
• Keep your workers informed about the dangers of sun exposure - make use of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) leaflet Keep your top on http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg147.pdf
• Encourage workers to check their skin regularly for unusual spots or moles that change size, shape or colour and to seek medical advice promptly if they find anything that causes them concern.
• Consulting your employees and their safety representatives is important. Take their views into account when introducing any new sun safety initiatives.