Outdoor Work Hazards: How Non-desk Workers Deal With Them
Workplace safety is one of the primary issues that most companies and corporations should prioritize. It should never take a back seat to profit because the workers are the lifeline of the business. Without them, no company will function fully, allowing them to earn as much as they should.
The thing about workplace safety is it is not just confined to office spaces. Every employee’s safety is paramount, especially those operating outside the confines of an office or building. This includes drivers, construction workers, farmers, and other professionals who are getting work done outdoors. Whether they do it for a shipping company or an agricultural business, these workers’ safety should be given the same value as you would one who works indoors.
The Most Common Outdoor Threats to Mobile and Site Workers
Outdoor, mobile, and site workers are faced with different types of health hazards that are different from the dangers office workers encounter. We have broken them down into the following categories:
Terrain and Geography
Whether it’s natural or man-made, the environment and surroundings play a huge part in both keeping workers safe and endangering them. Things like uneven and slippery surfaces or holes in the ground can cause trips and falls. Worksites surrounded by water can cause drowning. Plant life can also be a threat, such as poison ivy. Even power lines or other falling objects can cause serious bodily harm to a person.
Exposure to the elements and harsh weather conditions is another thing that outdoor and mobile workers constantly deal with. Think hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, blizzards, hail, and other similar natural phenomena that are dangerous conditions to work in.
Even if you’re not dealing with bad weather, overexposure to the sun isn’t exactly a pleasant thing. Outdoor workers are more susceptible to suffering from sunburn, heatstroke, and dehydration.
Animals and Insects
When a person is working outdoors, they inevitably encounter different types of critters and creepy-crawlies. Loggers, miners, farmers, and even your friendly neighborhood mailman all have to deal with the dangers of animal and insect attacks.
Biological hazards are also a great threat to outdoor workers’ health and safety. Exposure to vector-borne diseases can put a person at tremendous risk.
On top of all these, there’s also the threat of exposure to pesticides and different harmful chemicals. Construction and other outdoor industrial workers are also constantly exposed to loud industrial noises, damaging their hearing.
Safety Measures Against Outdoor Hazards
Given all the health threats outdoor workers face daily, here are a few things that employers and managers can do to protect their health:
Provision of Shelters and Other Indoor Facilities
If workers are far from any building with facilities that allow them to eat, rest, and relieve themselves when needed, they should be provided with satellite shelters for them to do these things.
Requirement of Proper Safety Work Gear and Equipment
The weather is one of the primary concerns any outdoor worker has. Employers should strictly enforce health and safety guidelines and require each employee to wear the appropriate personal protective clothing, gear, and equipment. This may be as simple as wearing hard hats and steel-toed boots to putting on hazmat suits complete with powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs).
No amount of protective gear can compensate for the power of hydration. A worker who spends most of his time under the sun needs to stay hydrated and should have access to clean drinking water and/or salt-replacing fluids at all times.
COVID-19 has completely disrupted the way we do things. Employees who do most of their work outdoors are at a greater risk of contracting this airborne virus mainly because they are out in public most of the time. At this point, employers and managers should be aware of the latest updates from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This type of information gathering can also be applied to all other potential threats. The more you know about a threat, the more prepared you can be.
Proper Training for Outdoor Safety Protocols
As we’re already talking about preparations, training your staff, both office-based and mobile/site workers, in different safety protocols will definitely come in handy in keeping your employees safe. Generally, most workplace safety guidelines are made for indoor work. A different set of health and safety protocols need to be created for employees who are constantly outdoors. However, as helpful as these written rules are, they won’t be as effective without proper training.
Periodic Health Assessments
Lastly, outdoor workers need to have regular health assessments to ensure their health is not compromised. The assessments will determine whether they’re still fit for their work or if they need to take some time off from the sun to allow their bodies to recover and recuperate as needed.
Outdoor worker safety should never be overlooked and neglected. Employers owe it to them to come up with different ways of ensuring that they are protected and kept safe at all times.