Work Safety and Working Outdoors

Many office workers spend a good portion of their day dreaming about breaking free from the constraints of office work. Sitting inside on a beautiful sunny day can be demoralizing. Workers who spend much of their time in the great outdoors are subject to certain risks, however; dangers from which their indoor counterparts are relatively free. They should recognize these risks and take precautions against them.

One of the biggest risks facing outdoor workers is exposure to the elements. Extreme heat or cold can cause illness. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun can lead to chronic illness like cancer. There are also risks associated with extreme weather disturbances like lightning strikes and flash floods. Workers should wear protective clothing, sunglasses, gloves, and sunscreen to protect themselves from the elements. They should seek shelter often and, if possible, do much of their work under shelter. Finally, they must discontinue work immediately with the threat of electrical storms, heavy rains, or snowfall.

Workers must also be aware of biological threats when working in wilderness areas or with possible contagions. Insects and wild animals carry disease. Farm animals also can pass illnesses on to humans. Spiders, snakes, and bees all provide a threat of illness through venomous or irritating bites. Even some plants can cause rashes or severe allergic reactions. An abundance of caution is advised. Finally, outside workers, depending on their field, may be subject to contact with dangerous chemicals. Pesticides and other chemicals used in agriculture are toxic to humans and can cause chronic illness even if they are not ingested. Outdoor workers and their managers should take measures to avoid exposure to these hazardous materials.

Employers would be wise to anticipate these risks to their employees that work outdoors. Encourage the use of protective clothing and materials by providing them to workers. Allow frequent breaks to give workers a chance to escape the causes of injury or illness. Finally, employers should carry business insurance to hedge against lost work hours and employee suffering.