Best Practices for Outdoor Workers: Staying Safe and Healthy in the Great British Outdoors

Lynn Martelli
Lynn Martelli

Fresh air and sunshine have their benefits, but working outdoors presents unique challenges. From sunburn and dehydration to slips and strains, it’s crucial to prioritise your safety and well-being. Here, we explore key best practices so you stay healthy and productive when working outdoors.

Dress for the weather

Layering clothing allows you to adjust to the UK’s unpredictable weather conditions. Start with a breathable base layer, followed by insulating mid-layers like fleece or a gilet. Top it off with a waterproof outer layer for wet weather. Wear moisture-wicking fabrics in hot weather to draw sweat away from your body to keep you cool. Or choose insulating materials like wool or down for warmth in colder months. Don’t forget your feet! Invest in waterproof boots with good tread for wet or uneven terrain. For chilly mornings or evenings, wear a heated hoodie with battery-powered heating elements to provide targeted warmth.

Sun safety

Melanoma skin cancer incidence rates in the UK have more than doubled (140%) since the early 1990s. As the sun’s rays are particularly strong during the summer months, sun protection is paramount. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every two hours, and more frequently if sweating or the sunscreen has been washed off. Ensure you cover areas like your ears, neck and the tops of your feet. Seek shade during peak sun hours (typically 11am to 3pm) whenever possible. Wear long-sleeved, loose-fitting clothing made from breathable fabrics like cotton or linen, and a wide-brimmed hat to further shield yourself from UV rays.


Dehydration can impact your health and performance. Studies have shown even mild dehydration can lead to decreased cognitive function and physical performance. To combat this, drink plenty of water. Carry a reusable water bottle and sip throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. In hot weather, consider adding electrolyte tablets to your water to replenish salts and minerals lost through sweat. Avoid sugary drinks and excessive caffeine, which can dehydrate you further.

Be aware of your surroundings

Be mindful of potential dangers such as uneven terrain, trip hazards, falling objects and traffic, especially if working near roads. Always wear high-visibility clothing if working in low-light conditions. If you’re working alone, using a lone worker device allows colleagues to check on your well-being.


Many outdoor jobs involve repetitive motions or awkward postures. This can lead to muscle strain and long-term injuries. Take regular breaks to stretch and change positions throughout the day. Use proper lifting techniques to avoid back strain. Consider ergonomic tools that minimise strain on your body. For instance, invest in knee pads if you spend a lot of time kneeling, or use a backpack with padded straps for carrying heavy loads.

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