Working outdoors presents its own unique set of challenges. No matter what type of work is being carried out, appropriate risk assessments are required. Otherwise, not only are you putting the safety of your workers at risk, but you could find yourself facing an unwanted legal battle, too. With that in mind, read on to discover some appropriate risk assessments you should consider when working outdoors:
What is a risk assessment?
A risk assessment is a systematic approach to assessing work activities. Business owners need to look at everything that could go wrong and determine suitable control measures for preventing injury, damage, and loss in the workplace. The assessment should include the controls needed to minimize, reduce, or eradicate the risks.
Working in hot environments:
The weather can be erratic at the best of times; one minute it is raining, the next minute we are welcoming a heat wave. When employees are working outside all day, it is important that they are protected from the weather. There are a number of administrative controls that can be used to protect workers when in hot environments. This includes:
- Talk to workers about the early symptoms of heat stress.
- Encourage the removal of personal protective equipment whenever a person is resting to help encourage heat loss.
- Introduce shaded areas where people are working.
- Supply free access to cool drinking water.
- Provide more frequent rest breaks.
- Reschedule work to cooler periods of the day.
Working in cold environments:
If your employees work outside all of the time, it is likely that they are going to need to work in cold weather. You will need to carry out a risk assessment so that you can reduce the risks associated with cold weather working. Some of the controls you can use to achieve this include:
* Talk to workers about the early symptoms of cold stress.
* Consider delaying the work. Is it possible to reschedule the work to a warmer time of the year that will not compromise safety?
* Introduce more frequent rest breaks.
* Encourage the drinking of warm fluids, such as hot drinks or soup.
* Provide mobile facilities for warming up.
* Make sure the personal protective equipment issued is suitable.
Working outdoors in specialist environments:
There are also a number of specialist workplace environments that require thorough risk assessments. This includes working outdoors under high air pollution levels. Factors to be considered throughout your risk assessment include workload, work arrangement, general/roadside AQHI category, workers’ health condition, and exposure to other air contaminants. Preventative measures include the likes of reducing the weight of loads being handled at one time, arranging for job rotation between indoor and outdoor work, and minimizing outdoor work in areas with heavy traffic.
When something goes wrong:
If you work outdoors and the correct safety measures are not taken, you could end up being involved in an accident and suffering an injury. If this does occur, it is important to find injury lawyers you can rely on. You should not merely sit back and accept what has happened to you. If it was not your fault because risk assessments were not carried out or the proper provisions were not put in place, you will be entitled to compensation.
There is a lot that needs to be considered when it comes to outdoor work. This is why thorough risk assessments are a necessity. Hopefully, you now feel like you have a better understanding regarding the steps that need to be taken in order to ensure that risks are minimized and workers are protected. If you are worried about the conditions you are working in, speak up!
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