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Health and Safety

Outdoor working

HSE Outdoor Working Advice
HSE Outdoor Working Advice

When working outdoors the weather can have an effect on an individual's effectiveness and this is not readily managed using just engineering controls. In these circumstances some of the most effective ways of managing these environments is by introducing some simple administrative controls for example:

Cold environments

Ensure the personal protective equipment issued is appropriate

Provision of mobile facilities for warming up, and encourage the drinking of warm fluids such as soup or hot chocolate

Introduce more frequent rest breaks

Can work be delayed and undertaken at warmer times of the year without compromising on safety

Educate workers about recognising the early symptoms of cold stress.

Hot environments

Reschedule work to cooler times of the day

Provide more frequent rest breaks and introduce shading to rest areas

Provide free access to cool drinking water

Introduce shading in areas where individuals are working

Encourage the removal of personal protective equipment when resting to help encourage heat loss.

Educate workers about recognising the early symptoms of heat stress

Working in the sun

What is the problem?

Too much sunlight is harmful to your skin. A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged. The damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight.

Who is at risk?

If work keeps you outdoors for a long time your skin could be exposed to more sun than is healthy for you. Outdoor workers that could be at risk include farm or construction workers, market gardeners, outdoor activity workers and some public service workers. You should take particular care if you have:
fair or freckled skin that doesn’t tan, or goes red or burns before it tans;

red or fair hair and light coloured eyes;

a large number of moles.

What are the harmful effects?

In the short term, even mild reddening of the skin from sun exposure is a sign of damage. Sunburn can blister the skin and make it peel.

Longer term problems can arise. Too much sun speeds up ageing of the skin, making it leathery, mottled and wrinkled. The most serious effect is an increased chance of developing skin cancer.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Keep your top on (ordinary clothing made from close woven fabric, such as long sleeved workshirt and jeans stops most UV)

Wear a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck.

Stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks and especially at lunch time.

Use a high factor sunscreen of at least SPF15 on any exposed skin.

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor promptly if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.



Update on the historic heating issues at the North Neighbourhood Office and Waverley Court

North Neighbourhood Office

This site has suffered from winter heating problems over a number of years. In the past portable gas heating has been brought in. This is not a good solution because it introduces a number of hazards into the workplace for example fumes from the heaters and the obvious problems in storing flammable materials on site.

This year the Services for Communities part of the building was sorted prior to the winter starting. The Health and Social Care side was not however. The Trade Unions would view a Safety issue affecting a site as a “Workplace” issue rather than as a “Department” issue. This raises an issue which needs to be taken up with management as it is not acceptable for disputes over budgets or lines of responsibility to leave workers being treated differently in one workplace depending on what their line of management is.

The heating in the Health and Social Care part of the building is currently being upgraded but this is leaving workers in a situation where they are on the site while the work is being carried out and still exposed to the cold, problems introduced by the work and the effects of the portable heating.

Waverley Court

Heating problems are not new and problems with cold in the Courtyard area have been particularly problematic. Safety Reps at this site have been active over the winter exploring problems and solutions with management. A workplace Safety Committee has been requested. Management by law have three months to comply with this request. Having a workplace Safety Committee gives Safety Reps a structure to work within and makes it easier to tackle Safety issues with management.

Neither site has had its problems fully resolved but things are improving. The improvements are not as quick as anyone would wish but they are starting to happen.

No improvement is possible however without workers involving their stewards and Safety Reps where there is a problem, without committed stewards and Safety Reps working together and without Trade Unions working together where there is more than one Trade Union on the site.

Further updates will follow on both issues.


Campus Sites Thermal Comfort Meeting with FM 24 August 2011

Attended by Dave McConnell (Trade Union), Graeme Leslie (FM) & Frank Donoghue (FM).

249 High Street

FM proposed closing the "top door" (which is currently the main public entrance) to the public and retaining it for staff and disabled access only.

There would be a need to change the way that the customer waiting area is organised and Cash Collection management would need to undertake this.

FD and GL agreed to discuss the issue with local management should they require further information.

FD and GL also reported that once the asbestos has been removed from the boiler area then extra sensors could be fitted so that temperature control could be more closely applied to each area of the workplace.

Waverley Court

This is a relatively new building and was originally designed so that the building should regulate its own temperature.

Sensors measure the temperature and the regulatory system automatically adjusts heating and cooling systems according to the measurements.

Since it opened a number of changes have been made that affect the temperature inside the building.

There are chill beams fitted into ceilings and floor vents which are both designed to lower the temperature. Since the building opened however desks have been moved. This means that some chill beams are now directly above where workers sit and some floor vents are now directly under desks. This means that the ventilation creates a draught that directly affects individuals.

Some of the floor vents have been closed. This means that the same volume of air is pushed through fewer vents making the draught more powerful. Floor vents can be moved but decisions on desk moves have to be made first otherwise the vents are at risk of being moved again.

The third floor is subject to solar gain. When the building was first opened workers were not able to open windows; only FM could do this. Because the building is open plan, opening a window in one part might solve the heat issue there but introduce a draught that is experienced by workers in another part of the building (particularly where a number of windows are open). We need to establish when and why the decision to allow staff to open windows was made and establish if it was correct.

This sounds like a very controlling way of working but because the system regulates building temperature it is not. Local solutions create wider problems so a building approach is more likely to work.

Work also requires to be done on the system that records temperatures and adjusts the heating/cooling. It doesn't appear to be responsive enough which means that the adjustments are too slow which in turn means that every problem worsens before it is tackled.

1 Cockburn Street

Sensors are to be relocated on the first floor of this building and more radiators are to be installed. Insulation will be installed in the roof area as well. Summing Up Complaints about temperature are still common on the campus sites. I'm trying to take them up as best I can but the refusal of management to allow time for me to undertake Safety Duties makes this hard.

It's important that workers continue to report problems to FM and also as Health and Safety issues and continue to keep me updated. If any solutions are discussed or meetings arranged please let me know so that I can try to stay involved.

Dave McConnell
Branch Health and Safety Officer

Temperature Survey

April 2011: Management in Finance are conducting a survey within the Department to identify areas where there are problems with temperatures in the working areas.

Members at Waverley Court and Chesser House have long complained about both excessive heat and cold at these sites.

Health and Safety professionals prefer the term "Thermal Comfort" to temperature in describing these issues.

The survey is supported by all trade unions in Finance and Safety Reps for all unions encourage members in Finance to complete this survey to give an accurate picture of the problems.

Your Safety Representatives are aware that it is not only members in this Department or on these sites that are affected and consultation is going on between management and trade unions to draft improved Corporate Guidance which will hopefully be of benefit to members throughout the City of Edinburgh Council.

Advice on Thermal Comfort is on the Branch website. It was drafted mainly with winter weather in mind and will be updated once the Corporate Guidance is out. The Branch Advice will be based on the information available from the Health and Safety Executive and will apply to non Council members also".

Dave McConnell
Branch Health and Safety Officer




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