How small business owners can protect workers working outdoors

Image by Christian Dorn from Pixabay

By Sally Giles

Many workers spend a lot of time outdoors. Owners of businesses such as roofing companies and other service-based businesses should ensure their workers are adequately protected from outdoor conditions. The good news is that protecting outdoor workers is not complicated, as it only requires a bit of thoughtfulness and planning.

Protection from wet and cold conditions

Some workers may be in areas where they are likely to be exposed to low temperatures, wet conditions and high winds. Business owners must have strategies to ensure their workers are protected from these conditions, with an important step being providing them with clothing to help with that. They should also have staff trained to recognise early hypothermia and render the appropriate first aid.

These workers should know when and how to prevent additional heat loss, provide adequate heating and evacuate the worker if they need emergency healthcare interventions.

Providing shade

If workers work in the same general area, business owners should provide adequate shade. They should also mandate the use of loose clothing and salt or electrolyte-replacement fluids to help with conditions that arise from working in hot conditions. Some conditions that can arise and need immediate attention include heat stroke, cramps, and exhaustion. In addition to providing shade, business owners should require their employees to come into the building regularly to take a break from the heat if the temperatures outside become unbearable.

Protecting workers from UV radiation

In cases where workers have to work in the sun because there is no shade, exposure should be minimised. Business owners should provide such workers with protective equipment, including sunglasses, clothing with adequate UV radiation protection, broad-brim hats and the like. This also applies to providing them with adequate personal protective equipment depending on the situation.

Business owners must also plan to ensure their outdoor workers consistently use sunscreen. While the effects of such exposure might not be immediately apparent, there is an increased risk of skin cancer if workers do not protect themselves. Workers can choose the right sunscreen from a selection of industrial skin care options and be encouraged to use it liberally whenever they are outdoors.

Protecting employees from lightning strikes

While many people do not think much about them, lightning strikes remain a risk for outdoor workers, especially those who spend a lot of time on high buildings. Employers should provide training so their workers can understand the risks associated with lightning strikes and what to do in case it happens.

Workers should know that they should:

-Seek shelter if there is a high risk of a lightning strike.

-Not touch any metal objects during a lightning storm

-Never shelter under a tree.

-Head for the shore immediately if they are on a boat.

They should also know they should act fast and get any injured persons to the hospital as soon as possible.

Working outdoors can seem safe, but there are dangers associated with doing so. For example, there is a higher risk of getting skin cancer for workers who do not protect themselves from UV radiation and a higher risk of hypothermia for those working in cold conditions. Business owners should provide their workers with everything they need to protect themselves, as well as training so they know what to do in case of an emergency.


Sally Giles ran her own successful importing business for many years. She’s now living the dream as a freelance writer, walking her dogs through the forest most days.

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