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Traditionally, workplace safety has often referred to employees in an office building or a manufacturing plant. But those are all indoor jobs. What about employees who have to work outdoors?
Whether it’s the weather conditions or chemicals in the environment, there are different types of health and safety concerns when employees are outdoors. To help highlight those differences, let’s take a look at some common safety hazards found outdoors so that employers can help workers be better prepared for working outside.
One of the biggest concerns for outside workers is dealing with extreme heat. In warm weather, employees can be vulnerable to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, both of which can be serious. In these situations, it’s important for employees to remain hydrated and take regular breaks from being under the sun.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are instances of extreme cold. If temperatures drop below freezing, employees who are outside could experience frostbite or hypothermia, both of which can be serious. Again, employees in these situations need a way to remove themselves from the cold regularly so they aren’t exposed for too long.
Even if the temperatures aren’t extreme, prolonged exposure to the sun can be a concern. In addition to sunburn and other irritation, certain skin cancers can be the result of long-term exposure to the sun. Therefore, employees need to be able to protect themselves with hats, proper clothing, and sunscreen.
It’s not just hot and cold weather; there are other types of extreme weather that can be hazardous when working outside. Rain, heavy winds, thunderstorms, and other types of severe weather can often interfere with work and make working conditions unsafe.
More than ever, air quality is becoming a concern for employees who have to be outside. Forest fires, smog, or even man-made pollution can all have an adverse effect on the air that outside workers are breathing. Both employers and workers need to be aware of potential air quality issues and check that the air in a particular area will be safe to breathe. If necessary, masks or other safety equipment may need to be provided to workers while they’re outside.
Just like noise can be an issue indoors, this is a potential hazard for outdoor employees as well. If workers are asked to use heavy machinery outside that makes a lot of noise, long-term exposure to those noises can be a concern. Even if it’s not a short-term concern, employees who are outside should still take measures to protect themselves from loud noises.
Employees never know what they might encounter while out in the world. If workers are out in nature near a lot of grass, they may not see ticks and mosquitos that can harm them. Workers who spend a lot of time outside become more vulnerable to parasites, bacteria, Lyme disease, and other viruses.
In addition to ticks and mosquitos, other forms of wildlife can be a hazard to outside workers, most notably snakes and spiders. The first step is simply being aware of what type of wildlife might be in the area where employees are working. This allows employers and workers to have a plan in place for how they will handle any type of wildlife invasion or attack.
Whether employers have outside workers, inside workers, or a combination of both, they need to know how to keep everyone protected. One of the best ways to do this is by getting outside help from the software solutions offered by EHS Insight. Our software can help track hazards, safety training, communication, and all other elements that go into keeping employees safe and healthy. This makes it easier to manage workplace safety and keep everyone protected.
If your priority is to keep your employees safe, let’s talk about how our software can help you create the safest work environment possible.
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