How to Stay Safe on Site in the Summer

stay safe

There are plenty of things to love about a Queensland summer. But if your job has you working outdoors, you may not look forward to the hot season!


The risks of heat stress are all too real. That’s why it’s so important you understand the early warning signs, along with the things you can do to lessen the impacts of a hot day on site and reduce your chances of heat exhaustion.


Here are six health and safety tips to help you and your team remain cool, calm and collected on site in summer.


1. Keep Up Your Hydration

Water is a key player in the battle against heat stress in the workplace. But when you’re hard at it and up against a project deadline, it can be easy to go too long between drinks. And waiting until you’re desperate for a swig of water isn’t a good move. By this point, your body may have already shifted into dehydration mode.


Aim to drink water every 15 to 20 minutes. Queensland Health recommends men drink 2.6 litres of fluid daily, and women 2.1 litres. If you’re working in hot conditions and/or sweating up a storm, you’ll need to increase that to account for the water you’re losing.


A few more water tips:

  1. Continue hydrating throughout the whole day – before you begin the work day and when you get home at night
  2. Avoid too much caffeine (coffee, tea or energy drinks) as they can cause dehydration
  3. Keep a small esky of ice handy. As it melts, you can dip a towel in for a quick cool down – just be sure the crew knows it’s not for drinking!

2. Wear the Right Gear (Including Sunscreen)

The best clothes for hot days on site are breathable, lightweight, loose-fitting and lightly coloured. A wide-brimmed hat is also a must (if your job allows it).


For those working in environments that require heavy PPE, lightweight clothing might not be an option. In this instance, you could consider using a cooling vest with pockets filled with cold packs to quickly cool your core temperature.


Like water, sunscreen is also essential. Use one with a high SPF and apply regularly, especially if you’re sweating buckets.


3. Adjust Your Workday Schedule

Generally speaking, the hottest time of the day is between 11.00am and 3.00pm. Starting your day a little earlier means you can get the most physically demanding jobs done before the temperature starts to soar. If this isn’t possible, aim to do as much of the heavy lifting in the morning before the heat really hits.

4. Rest Regularly

Fatigue can lead to simple, yet costly, mistakes. In the heat, fatigue can set in fast and that’s why regular breaks are so important. They’ll give you a chance to rest and refresh, helping you get back on the tools with a clear (and hopefully cool) head.

5. Seek Out Some Shade

On hot days, try to work in the shade as much as possible, even shifting tasks to undercover areas if you can. As some tasks will likely still require full sun exposure, you could rotate these jobs between crew members so everyone gets a chance to enjoy some shade.


6. Know the Warning Signs

Heat exhaustion can hit quickly, even if you’re doing all the right things. Spotting the early signs – both in yourself and others – significantly lowers the chance of it progressing further to heatstroke, a serious illness. If left untreated, heatstroke can cause organ damage and potential death.


Here’s what to look out for:

  • Dry mouth, lips or tongue
  • Goosebumps
  • Dizziness
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you experience these symptoms, or notice them in a teammate, the best advice is to get out of the sun and loosen any tight clothing. Try to rest, while sipping cold water and applying a damp towel or ice packs to your face, neck, arms and feet.


If you see someone struggling with their coordination, with slurred speech or behaving in a confused way they might have heatstroke. In this case, call 000 or seek medical attention immediately.


More Help?

As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself for working in the heat. Hopefully, these tips make those hot days on site a little easier. And the added bonus? You’re now well equipped to understand the risks of heat stress, so you can be on the lookout for those early warning signs in yourself or fellow workmates.


If you’d like some further health and safety tips or are on the hunt for your next labour hire, please get in touch with one of our Construction recruitment specialists here at YourTrades. We’d love to help.

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