Workers working at high temperatures are at high risk of sunstroke, heatstroke and sunburns from sun exposure. The heatstroke can also be deadly or cause severe health problems, so it is necessary to work in accordance with the protection measures for work in such conditions. Any outside working should be analyzed and included in a risk assessment to identify all potential risks.
When the air temperature in the summer months exceeds 36 ° C, employees who perform open-air operations are considered to work under unfavorable working conditions. The employer is obliged, in accordance with the Law on Safety and Health at Work (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia” No. 101/05), to provide to the employee work in the environment and in the workplace where health and safety measures have been implemented.
Thus, in 2007 the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted a Recommendation giving employers guidelines on how to organize work in such a way as to avoid carrying out heavy physical activities and exposure to direct sunlight of employees during high ambient temperatures above 36 ° C, from 11 am to 4 pm. Applying these measures can greatly reduce or reduce heat stress during work.
Occupational safety and health measures have been established, first and foremost, by the Regulation on Safety and Health at Work on Temporary or Mobile Construction sites (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 14/09 and 95/10) and the Ordinance on preventive measures for safe and healthy work at the workplace (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 21/09), as well as other regulations in the field of occupational safety and health.
This Regulation and the Ordinance, inter alia, prescribe an overview of measures for safe and healthy work in temporary and mobile construction sites and it is defined that when working on the construction site the methods of work and activities, as well as the physical burden of the employee must be determined according to ambient temperature, and that employees must be protected against the harmful consequences of atmospheric and weather effects on their safety and health and have provided first aid.
The measures that employers are obliged to apply to protect workers at high temperature openings are: organizational, technical, health, change of mode of operation.
This in practice implies:
• Frequent replacement of employees for performing outdoor work;
• More frequent breaks by providing large amounts of water and soft drinks;
• Providing space where employees can get away from the sun and refrigeration;
• Compulsory provision of information to employees about health hazards due to exposure to high temperatures;
• Mandatory providing of the information to the employees about symptoms of high-temperature diseases
• Providing first aid in case of health problems of employees
If employers do not apply preventive measures, serious health risks for workers may occur: dehydration, faster fatigue, reduced ability to work, fatigue, heat spasms, sunstroke, etc.
MEASURES FOR SAFE AND HEALTHY OUTDOOR WORK AT HIGH TEMPERATURES
1. WORK ORGANIZATION
– Avoiding work in the hottest part of the day (11 am – 4 pm, in accordance with the recommendation of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, if this permits the work process)
– Work organization in shifts
– Introduction of additional labor force
– Redistribution of work – the harder part of the work to be done in a cooler part of the day
– Make frequent breaks by providing a large amount of water and soft drinks
– Provide training for first aid workers
– Employees must be able to take off their tools and equipment for personal protection at work during their breaks
– Provide adequate space where employees can get away from the sun and rest
– Perform acclimatization of employees in conditions at high temperatures.
2. TRAINING OF THE EMPLOYEES FOR SAFE AND HEALTHY WORK
Alongside mandatory training for safe and healthy work, the employer should:
– Inform employees about symptoms of diseases caused by high temperatures
– Provide mandatory information on the health risks in exposure to high temperatures to the employees
– Provide information to the employees about the dangers of taking alcohol or drugs that disable or slow down acclimatization.
3. EQUIPMENT FOR PERSONAL PROTECTION ON WORK AND WORKING CLOTHES
In addition to personal protective equipment and equipment for outdoor work at high temperatures, if possible, employees should be provided with:
– Summer suits, caps, scarves, etc.
– Carry white, light and comfortable clothes from natural materials
– Wear caps, scarves or lightweight hats with a wide headband covering the neck if the employee is not obliged to wear the personal protective equipment and personal protective equipment (such as helmet).
4. PREVENTION OF HEALTH PROBLEMS
– Get enough fluids. If the physical activity lasts less than 60 minutes, it is enough to drink ordinary water to compensate for lost fluid, and when the physical activity lasts for more than 60 minutes, ordinary water for the recovery of fluid is no longer sufficient, as the excessive sweating has lost electrolytes, so it is recommended to drink water with added carbohydrates and electrolytes. In order to prevent dehydration it is important:
1. Drink at least two liters of water per day
2. Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks, alcohol, carbonated drinks and high-sugar sports drinks as they contain dehydrating ingredients
3. Drink every 15 – 20 minutes one glass of chilled water
– Make frequent breaks in the shade or in chilled rooms
– Proper nutrition – avoiding heavy and extensive food, eat fresh fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that fresh foods and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, small quantities of bread and fish and seafood are used in the diet. Heavy and greasy fried meals, red and dried meat, canned food and consumption of sweets, foods containing refined sugar and saturated fats in large quantities are not recommended and worsen sun and heath related health problems if they occur.
– Use protective sunscreen and sunglasses with UV protection
– Provide appropriate first aid if necessary
If employers do not apply preventive measures in outdoor work at high temperatures, serious health risks can occur, such as dehydration of the organism, faster fatigue, reduced ability to work, increased work mistakes, fatigue, heat spasms, exhaustion, heat stroke etc.
These preventive measures provide the basic guidelines that help employers to organize the work on the outdoor construction site in a safe way for all workers involved in the work.