Heatwave Advice - Outdoor Workers

Outdoor workers such as people working in construction may be particularly at risk in heatwaves from high outdoor temperatures as well as from UV exposure. Outdoor workers are exposed to 2-3 times more UV radiation from the sun than people who work indoors, putting you at high risk of skin cancer.

Advice for Outdoor Workers

You need to keep hydrated and protect your skin from the sun. Those who spend all or part of the day regularly working outdoors can reduce their risk of skin cancer by protecting their skin by being SunSmart.

The general advice is to keep out the sun especially if outdoors between 11am to 3pm when UV rays are at their strongest. If possible, schedule outdoor work before 11am or after 3pm.

However, if you have to go outdoors to work, protect your skin by using shade, wear clothing that covers the skin, a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen of 30+ for adults.

Advice to Employers of Outdoor Workers

Employers need to make sure that their workers can keep hydrated easily and can protect their skin from UV radiation damage.

Employers should ensure that the working conditions are safe during a heatwave so that:

  • Workers can access safe drinking water easily.
  • Workers can take enough time to hydrate – as the outdoor temperature rises the frequency of water breaks should go up.
  • There is shade for working, or if that is not possible, there should be shade for breaks.
  • Workers can wear protective clothing such as wide brimmed hats and sunglasses.
  • Workers have easy access to sunscreen with SPF minimum 30 or higher as it needs to be frequently applied.

Please make it easy for workers to follow the SunSmart code messages - 5 Ss:

  1. Slip on clothing that covers your skin, such as long sleeves, collared t-shirts.
  2. Slop on sunscreen on exposed areas. Use sunscreen SPF minimum 30 or higher. Apply 20 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two hours – more often if perspiring.
  3. Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.
  4. Seek shade - especially if outdoors between 11am and 3pm when UV rays are at their strongest. If possible, schedule outdoor work before 11am or after 3pm.
  5. Slide on wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes. 

 See HSE SunSmart video link for outdoor workers  or visit www.hse.ie/sunsmart/ for more information.