Summer Health & Safety Advice from St John

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Heat is a frequently underestimated occupational hazard of the construction industry and its effects are easily preventable with careful common sense planning. When temperatures soar, workers who perform outdoor jobs risk being more than just uncomfortable — the work can cause serious illness or even death. High humidity and prolonged periods in the sun can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Employers and workers should be familiar with some of the common signs of heat exhaustion.


Heat related conditions can be caused by overexertion in warm to hot environments. Signs and symptoms include thirst, weakness, sweating, nausea, rapid breathing and confusion.
If you suspect a workmate is overheating:
  • Rest them in a cool place
  • Give them fluids to drink
  • Arrange medical attention from a doctor or call healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice if you are unsure.

Heat Stroke

Heatstroke is a serious condition and requires urgent medical attention. It is extremely important to watch for signs of heat stroke. Some signs to look for include no sweating, confusion, seizures, unconsciousness.
What to do:
  •  If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, seek medical advice immediately call 111.

Sunburn Safety

Sunburn is common in New Zealand. Prevention is better than cure, and people should remember to be SunSmart:
  • Slip into a shirt
  • Slop on some sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat
  • Wrap on a pair of sunglasses.
If you do get sunburned, your skin may become warm, red, and blistered.
What to do:
  • DO NOT burst large blisters
  • Sunburn ointment may be applied for minor burns that are not severely blistered and have no broken skin
  • Seek medical assistance for large-area sunburns, or if the person is feeling unwell, or if large blisters are associated with the burns.
Becoming a competent first aider is more than just getting a certificate. St John First Aid Training has the widest range of courses including First Aid Level 1, Refresher and Advanced Resuscitation, which all comply with NZQA requirements. Our classes are taught by experts with real field experience because we know that first aid is more than an academic exercise, it can make the difference between life and death.

Prevention is better than a cure!

Here are a few tips to reduce the risk:
  • Go easier for the first few weeks in the heat.
  • Drink water every 15 minutes. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty.
  • Plan the day to tackle tougher jobs during the cooler morning hours.
  • Rest in shaded areas or air conditioning, if possible.
  • Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more. Be sure to apply it about 15–30 minutes before exposure. If you’re out in the sun all day, reapply every 2 hours.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Finally, watch your colleagues for signs of heat illness – especially heat stroke!
Think about actions you personally will take to prevent heat being a problem for you in your workplace this summer.
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You call us for help, call us for training too. Be prepared in a medical emergency.

Visit first-aid to book online or call 0800 FIRST AID (0800 347 782).