The highs and lows of wearing PPE in hot weather

Clair Weston, marketing manager at uvex, offers some tips for staying safe and comfortable while using PPE this summer.

uvex has a strong reputation for keeping people safe in summer weather. Our name is an abbreviation of 'ultraviolet exclusion', and we are market leaders in recognising the damage of UV exposure and developing technology to protect against it. Furthermore, our products also offer superior user comfort and wearability, with a variety of styles and designs to ensure there is something for everyone when working during the summer months.

1. Eyes on the skies

You may be surprised to learn that the eye is the organ most susceptible to sun damage and is 10 times more sensitive than our skin. Overexposure to some UV rays can lead to cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), among other eye conditions, so choosing the right safety eyewear is key to protecting against long-term damage. All uvex eyewear has UV protection up to 400 nanometers (nm) as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and based on the latest scientific findings. Protection up to 380 nm offers 100% protection against UVB rays, but only provides partial protection against equally dangerous UVA radiation. All uvex safety eyewear covers both UVB and UVA rays as standard.

It's not just UV radiation that jeopardises health. Brightness and glare can make it particularly difficult to see clearly, meaning an increased risk of accidents or injuries.

This doesn’t just occur when working outside in bright sunshine. High levels of harsh, bright white light from modern lighting technology, such as LED’s or working with screens that emit artificial blue light, can cause problems with eye strain, headaches or mental and physical fatigue. Prolonged exposure to these light sources, especially at night time, can lower melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone our bodies use to regulate sleep, and over exposure can disrupt our circadian rhythm (our natural waking and sleeping cycle). Properly tinted lenses can have a dramatic effect on our long-term health as well as the quality of your vision, enhancing comfort, clarity and productivity when working indoors or outdoors.

In addition, hi-tech, permanent and bespoke lens coatings can be used to improve vision in or out of the sun and keep lenses cleaner for longer.

2. Get a grip on hands

Our hands have 375 sweat glands per square centimeter on the palms and the insides of the fingers, and around another 200 on the back of the hand; nowhere else on the human body has more glands. These are particularly active in the summer which is why it is important to choose a safety glove that allows hands to breathe, while providing appropriate protection levels. Maintaining good hand hygiene is important by washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before wearing gloves. This can help remove excess oils and sweat from the skin, reducing the likelihood of excessive sweating.

Regarding glove choice, look for those that offer reliable grip coatings - some of which have an open pore structure to help enhance breathability, as well as the glove liner featuring moisture-wicking or absorbing properties. Some uvex gloves incorporate sustainable bamboo, a fibre known for its soft, luxurious feel attributed to the smooth, round structure of its fibres. It’s also 20% more breathable and has high capacity and quick moisture absorption properties, helping to keep skin cool, dry and comfortable when compared to synthetic or even cotton equivalents. Bamboo is naturally hypoallergenic making it ideal for those with sensitive skin. It also boasts antibacterial properties thus making it ideal for gloves and physically demanding tasks.

3. Keep a cool head (and body)

Safety helmets can have a big impact on wearer comfort and compliance, particularly in hot conditions, so uvex has developed a range of helmets with individually adjustable climazone ventilation. Designed to move with the wearer, front and back vents allow air in to cool the head and warm air to escape at the rear. The vents can easily be opened to increase airflow through the helmet and closed to help combat the elements.

In warmer weather, try and opt for clothing made from lightweight and breathable fabrics, such as bamboo, that allow air circulation and promote ventilation. Look for moisture-wicking properties to help keep sweat away from your body. Light colours reflect sunlight and heat, helping to keep you cooler than darker colours which absorb the heat. Go one step further and look for products which include certified UV protection to guard against damaging rays.

4. Treat hot feet

Not only are hot feet uncomfortable and distracting, but they are also more susceptible to blisters, fungal infections and other unpleasant conditions. Our feet produce enough sweat during intense physical activity to fill an entire glass of water over the course of a working day. Like hands, practising good hygiene with daily washing and thorough drying before putting on fresh socks and footwear will help eliminate moisture build up.

As a minimum, try to remember to remove the insole in your safety footwear when you take them off at the end of the day, and leave in a well-ventilated area where possible. This will allow both the insole and footwear to dry thoroughly. Also look for footwear that allows air circulation and ventilation to help release heat and moisture. The upper material and lining also play an important part in ensuring feet remain comfortable throughout the day. Take uvex's range of breathable shoes and insoles for example, which use uvex's climazone technology, developed to help your body maintain a comfortable temperature even in the hottest weather, while drawing moisture away from the feet. Lastly, remember the importance of fit. Tight or ill-fitting footwear will only make your feet feel hotter.

5. General sun safety

Even with all your kit sorted there are still some common-sense tips for working in hot weather.

  • Protect exposed skin with high factor sunscreen and reapply regularly.
  • Frequent rest breaks in the shade and regular rehydration are key to allowing your body to recover from heat exposure and prevent overheating.
  • Be aware of the signs of heat stress and heat exhaustion, which include an inability to concentrate, muscle cramps, fainting, nausea and severe thirst.
  • Heat exhaustion can lead to the even more serious condition of heat stroke which requires emergency medical attention.

Wearing PPE in hot temperatures can pose its challenges as well as increase the risk of overheating. However, by selecting the right products from a trusted brand like uvex, users can continue to prioritise safety, while considering comfort and overall wellbeing in hot weather conditions.

About uvex group

The uvex group unites four companies under one roof: the uvex safety group, the uvex sports group (uvex sports and ALPINA), the Filtral group (Filtral and Primetta) and Protecting People GmbH for the B2C business. The uvex group is represented by 49 branches in 22 countries and produces by conviction with a focus on Germany. 60 percent of the nearly 3,000 employees (as of FY 2020/21) are based in Germany. uvex is a global partner to top international sports as an outfitter to countless top athletes. The guiding principle of protecting people is both a mission and an obligation. To this end, the uvex group develops, produces and sells products and services for the safety and protection of people in the professional, sports and leisure sectors.

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