Summer safety essentials – protect your team from hot weather hazards

Summer sparks a boom in building work – which means hot shifts for your yard workers. Spending hours outdoors presents a series of health and safety hazards – including heat stress, dehydration and sunburn – and ramps up your team’s risk of skin cancer. 

With at least 100,000 new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the UK each year, prevention should be a key part of your H&S programme. We’ve outlined practical ways to beat the heat and keep your crew working safely through summer. 

Wear sun-safe clothing and PPE 

Lightweight, high visibility tops are the ideal choice for yard workers during the hotter months. Sun hats and shaded eye protection are also essential seasonal kit. Multiple layers of PPE can cause overheating, so keep a close eye on workers’ body temperature and provide frequent breaks in cool, shaded areas. 

Supply sunscreen – and apply it regularly 

Your team are far more likely to use sunscreen if it’s provided onsite. For best results, invest in a high factor, water-resistant sunblock of at least SPF15. Encourage reapplication every two hours on all sections of exposed skin, including the neck, ears, hands and face. If staff are working up a sweat, they may need to top up more frequently. Always check the packaging for specific directions. 

Reduce glare for lift truck drivers 

Bright sunshine can obscure lift truck drivers’ vision, increasing the odds of collisions with pedestrians or other vehicles. Kit out operatives with sunglasses that are tinted, polarised or have an anti-reflective coating. A clean windscreen also decreases glare, so ensure trucks are kept clear of grime, build-up and smears. 

Help staff stay cool and hydrated 

Water is one of your best defences against heat-related health issues. Make clean drinking water available to all staff and urge workers to keep step with their recommended intake – an 8-ounce glass every 15–20 minutes.

Create areas of shade across your site and encourage employees to take breaks and lunch periods out of the sun. Also consider modifying working practices to minimise time spent in the heat. Solutions might include increasing team sizes to speed up jobs, using tools to cut down on manual labour and scheduling tasks during cooler parts of the day. 

Educate workers about summer dangers 

To ensure consistent safety in the sun, train your team well before the mercury begins to rise. Make sun protection tips a standard part of your safety training – tackling the myth that tanned skin is a sign of good health. 

Teach staff to recognise common red flags, including heat stress symptoms (headaches, dizziness, vomiting, confusion, clammy skin, fainting, weakness and nausea) and the early skin cancer signs. Motivate employees to perform regular skin checks – looking out for unusual spots or moles that change size, shape or colour – and speak to their doctor promptly about any possible issues. 

Get personalised advice from an Opus specialist   

If you’re struggling to stay on top of summer safety priorities, talk to us. We’ll help you identify seasonal risks and put simple plans in place to prevent accidents, health concerns and compliance breaches. 

Speak to an experienced sector expert on 0330 043 4015 or email