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TUC calls for outdoor worker protection

04 July 2018

WITH TEMPERATURES set to hit 30 degrees in parts of the UK this week, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling on bosses to make sure that any staff working outdoors are protected from the sun and the heat.

The TUC says that workers like builders, agricultural workers and gardeners who are outside for lengthy periods in high temperatures are at risk of sunstroke, sunburn and even skin cancer.

And working in hot weather can also lead to dehydration, tiredness, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting, and – in the most extreme cases – loss of consciousness.

Employers can work with their health and safety union reps, suggests the TUC, and introduce the following measures to protect their staff who work outdoors when the temperatures rise:

  • Allow staff to take plenty of breaks and provide a supply of drinking water;

  • Organise work so outside tasks are done earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon, rather than between 11am-3pm when temperatures are highest;

  • Provide canopies or covering over open areas and shaded areas for breaks;

  • Ensure that outdoor workers have sunscreen and are given advice on the need to protect themselves from the heat and sun – and it would be helpful if the advice is available in other languages for migrant workers;

  • Provide lightweight brimmed hats for all outdoor workers and make sure that any protective clothing is lightweight, long-sleeved and comfortable.


The heat can also be dangerous for workers whose jobs involve driving, warns the TUC, as any driver suffering from fatigue is a risk to themselves and other people.

Bosses should provide cars, vans or lorries with air conditioning. Or if a driver is going to be stuck in traffic for any length of time, avoid driving in very hot weather, suggests the TUC.

General secretary of TUC Frances O’Grady said, “We all love to see the sunshine. But working outdoors in sweltering conditions can be unbearable and dangerous.

Bosses must ensure their staff are protected with regular breaks, lots of fluids, plenty of sunscreen and the right protective clothing.

Anyone worried about their working conditions should join a union, it’s the best way to stay safe at work and make sure you are represented and your voice heard.”