Heatwave safety alert for farmers

Farmers are being urged to take extra care following a heatwave action alert from the Met Office.

The world’s largest professional health and safety organisation is urging farmers and farmworkers to take care in the heatwave – especially when outdoors.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) said heat stress was a common, yet often ignored, hazard in the workplace.

While it was widely acknowledged that high temperatures could pose a considerable health risk, farmers may not appreciate that toiling in hot environments also escalated safety risks.

The warning comes at a particularly busy time of year encompassing silaging, hay-making and the onset of the cereal harvest.

Simple measures such as wearing a hat, using sun tan lotion and having adequate drinking water could all contribute to safer working.

Phil Bates, IOSH senior policy and technical adviser, said: “Working in very hot conditions is linked with lower mental alertness and physical performance, and consequently more injuries.

“Factor in raised body temperature and physical discomfort and it’s easy to see how employees can divert their attention from tasks and overlook everyday safety procedures.”

He added: “Many people are exposed to heat in some jobs, outdoors or in sweltering indoor environments.

Operations involving soaring air temperatures, radiant heat sources, elevated humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or demanding physical activities had the potential for causing heat-related illness.

“While often considered a summer problem, many companies need to take preventative measures throughout the year, regardless of where they are located.”

The warning comes following a Met Office heatwave action alert for London and south-eastern England.

The level-three alert was triggered after the Met Office determined that there was a 90 per cent probability of excessively hot conditions in parts of England this week.

A level-four alert marks the point at which a severe prolonged heatwave is declared a national emergency.

Forecasters say this is the longest period of hot weather since 2006 and there is no end in sight to the hot, sticky days and long, muggy nights.

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