This article written by Postage Supermarket features ways in which PPE can be hugely crucial and beneficial to outdoor workers in order to protect them from extreme weather conditions and safety hazards
Whether you regularly work on shipping containers, or in a cargo terminal; these alongside many other outdoor and at sea roles can mean you’re forced to work in extreme weather conditions and high risk environments. Ensuring you wear the correct PPE is hugely important in order to protect yourself from any potential illnesses or injuries.
What is PPE?
Working outdoors means you have to endure extreme cold weather conditions which can cause a number of serious health issues and injuries such as frostbite, hypothermia and trenchfoot. When the outdoor temperature drops below 5-8°C respiratory and cardiovascular health problems can occur and as the temperature continues to drop the risk of death and illness increases. PPE for extreme cold weather consists of appropriate thermal clothing, gloves and hats.
PPE is Personal Protective Equipment that protects employees from health and safety risks in the workplace. PPE typically includes the following items:
· Safety helmets
· Eye protection
· Safety harnesses
· Safety footwear
· High-visibility clothing
· Life jackets (if applicable)
PPE in Cold Weather Conditions
Layering your PPE clothing in cold weather is crucial for keeping your body temperature regulated. The inner layer should be a ‘wicking’ material such as polyester or silk to draw moisture away from the skin. This inner layer is important because if moisture wicking doesn’t occur; the thermal insulation of your clothing decreases from 50% to 30%.
The middle layer should be fleece, down or wool to insulate and the outer layer should be waterproof for wind and water protection.
You should also take the following steps when working outdoors to prevent cold stress from developing:
- Take breaks when necessary
- Work in pairs or groups if possible to look out for signs of cold stress
- Eat starchy, high calorie meals such as pasta for a slow release of energy throughout the day
- Wear a hat or hood as up to 40% of the body’s heat can be lost when the head is exposed
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
- Schedule heaviest work in the warmest parts of the day
PPE in Hot Weather
Hot weather can be just as much of a risk as cold weather when working outdoors, however it makes the use of PPE slightly more complicated. As PPE is designed to protect individuals from health and safety risks, it is extremely important however it can also expose employees to heat stress as it can reduce the body’s ability to evaporate sweat. You should opt for garments and eye wear that provide UV protection, make sure you wear sun cream and try to schedule work at the coolest time of the day if possible. Also drink plenty of fluids and take breaks in shade regularly throughout the day.
Further Risks to be Aware of in Outdoor and At-Sea Roles
Although weather is one of the biggest threats to be concerned about when working outdoors or at sea, there are also a number of other health and safety risks you need to be aware of too some of which will require PPE.
Slips and falls – the deck may or ladders used to board the vessel may be wet and slippery meaning you should wear appropriate footwear and head protection.
Working alone – working alone always carries risks and there is the obvious danger of becoming injured and having no one to help making it important that you always let other team members know your location before carrying out a particular task.
Cold stores – Cold stores tend to have self-locking systems which you could easily become trapped in. Make sure you wear insulation clothing, limite the time you spend in the cold store and ensure there is always someone outside the store
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