Working / tooling in the garden

Posted by Chris Sugden on

Now that summer’s here, it should be a joy to work outside. But although most people think the perils of outdoor working in the garden of the UK is the country’s highly changeable weather, the dangers of hot weather apply just as much to Sheffield as they do to more exotic climates.

Despite that, with care you can work safely, and enjoy the warmer weather. So if you are doing some DIY, or professional tooling, what steps do you need to take to make sure you are safe when the sun shines?

Think like you are on holiday

You are working, but the advice that applies when you are slapping on the sunscreen on a beach still applies. Despite its northern elevation the Sheffield sun can still get hot, so limit outdoor working in the garden to the cooler hours, avoiding being exposed around midday.

And even though you aren’t doing it for a tan, wear sunscreen. There are over 50,000 case of skin cancer diagnosed every year in the UK. So take care, especially if you are fair skinned.

Don’t work too hard

When it’s hot, work becomes more difficult. Physical exertion is harder in the heat, and you need to allow for that when outdoor working.

Make sure that you take frequent breaks, ideally in a shaded and cooler area. And remove any PPE that you have been using. PPE keeps you safe, but it is not designed as cool leisure wear. Ensure that you remove it entirely. While you might think the effect is small, just pulling a mask off your face or moving goggles to your head means they are still preventing part of your body from getting a cooling breeze.

Respect the heat

Finally, pay attention to the heat, and know what its effects can be. When you are working, you may well find yourself lost in the job, and not paying attention to other sensations. That’s why it’s important to regularly take a moment to check how you are feeling. Can you feel exposed skin burning, or are you feeling any effects of dehydration, for example?

There are many conditions that can strike when working in the heat. Dehydration is one of the most common, and often mild, but it and heatstroke can have a severe effect on the human body. They also carry a significant risk when working with power tools, since they have symptoms that affect you mentally and physically, such as confusion or cramps. Either could result in a serious accident.

How to stay safe

Common sense, and respect for the hot weather, are usually all it takes. But it’s also sensible to ensure that any equipment you are using has safety features to protect you in case an accidental slip does happen. This can be especially important when working outdoors because it can often be an uncontrolled environment and in locations that are not designed for tooling work.

Of course, after taking all these precautions, how you deal with the inevitable torrential summer downpour is a different matter!

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