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How To Stay Cool On Site This Summer

Working outside in the Summer can sound ideal – topping up your tan and enjoying the warm rays of the sun for 8 hours a day. But when you work in construction, you’ll know too well the reality of  how tough it can be. Intense heat combined with having to wear heavy boots, work gloves and a hard hat can make for a pretty uncomfortable, and very sticky, working day. Thankfully in the UK, we aren’t always blessed with too many hot Summer days, but on the chance that we do have another heatwave this year, it’s a good idea to be prepared.

Overheating in the workplace is actually no laughing matter, and can get serious pretty quickly, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the first signs of heat exhaustion, to look after yourself and to keep an eye on your colleagues. The signs of heat exhaustion can be quite subtle, and not always what you’d expect. Here are a few warning signs to look out for:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Rapid pulse – check this when at rest
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Headaches
  • Goosebumps on skin

It’s important to be aware of these early warning signs, so that as soon as you spot these you can take action and prevent further harm from occurring. If you do spot the early signs of heat exhaustion, then it’s important to get yourself/your colleague into the shade immediately. Encourage them to take off any unnecessary clothing or PPE where possible, and make them sip slowly on water – not ice cold water, which could potentially send their body into shock.

But thankfully, there are a few simple tips you can follow to avoid reaching a dangerous level of over-heating. So now that we’ve covered the worst case scenario, let’s take a look at how you can take to stay cool on site this Summer.

  1. Keep hydrated

    Most signs of heat exhaustion are caused by severe dehydration, so keeping yourself well hydrated is key. The trick is to continuously drink small amounts of water throughout the day, ideally at least every half hour when you’re working in hot weather. Our bodies are made up of around 60% water, so drinking plenty of water is really important to help us function properly – both physically and mentally. On a daily basis we should aim to be drinking at least 2 litres of water, but when we’re exposed to hot temperatures, this should be upped to 3 litres minimum.

  2. Work smart

    In countries which regularly enjoy hot weather, construction sites tend to work at much earlier hours – so see if this is something your role allows. Even starting an extra hour or so earlier can really make a difference. The day tends to reach it’s peak temperature at around 3-4pm in the afternoon. So if you can clock off by then, try your best to! If your site doesn’t allow this, try to work smartly and plan your day so that you do the majority of your heavy lifting and more heavy duty work in the cooler morning.

  3. Dress appropriately

    We understand that heavy duty PPE is a job requirement, and unfortunately even in the hottest weather it isn’t safe to sacrifice these types of workwear when you’re on site. However, you can still make smart choices when it comes to workwear. Always opt for shorts, choose loose cotton t-shirts which are breathable in hot weather, wear a baseball cap to keep the sun off your head when you’re not wearing a hard hat, and if it’s safe to, choose safety trainers over heavier work boots. If you’re not able to make the switch to safety trainers, we’d recommend choosing a pair of lightweight composite safety boots, which will be a lot more comfortable to wear in the heat than steel toe boots.

  4. Eat the right meals

    To help your body stay cool and prevent yourself from over-heating, we’d recommend eating lighter meals more frequently. Eating a heavy meal at lunchtime means that your body has to work extra hard to digest it, and in turn your internal body temperature will rise. When picking meals and snacks, we also recommend opting for foods which will keep you hydrated too – fruits and vegetables are full of water and electrolytes, which will keep your body feeling nourished and hydrated for longer. They’re also easier to digest.

  5. Seek shade

    We know it’s not always possible to down tools mid job to go and cool off, but when the weather is reaching extreme highs it’s important to know when to go and cool off for five minutes. Whether you’re able to pop inside and grab a glass of water, or even find a shady spot on site where you can continue working for a while, before returning to the direct sun. The more time you can spend in the shade, the better.

  6. SPF and reapply

    We know this is something most construction workers are completely guilty of overlooking, but with skin cancer cases on the rise and 90% of them being completely avoidable, it’s important to consider. We recommend applying a high SPF all over before you get dressed for work in the morning, then on your breaks just re-apply your sun cream. It doesn’t take long at all and is such an important step to take when you’re spending a lot of time outside in the sun. Not only will it protect your skin from harmful rays, but it’ll also help you stay cool – sunburnt skin will only make you feel hotter.

Staying cool on site this summer doesn’t need to be hard work. We hope you’ve found our tips useful and have given you some ideas to take through the upcoming Summer months – if we ever get a proper British Summer that is! If you’re looking for workwear to keep you cool in the heat, shop our range of Summer Workwear.

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