How to keep cool at work during the heatwave
As parts of the UK bask in soaring temperatures, many people will be wondering about what the rules are governing working in hot weather.
Hottest day of the year
According to the HSE, the law does not state a minimum or maximum temperature, but the temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16°C or 13°C if much of the work involves rigorous physical effort.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 lay down particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment. Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:
“During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.”
However, the application of the regulation depends on the nature of the workplace, such as a bakery, a cold store, an office, a warehouse.
But these regulations only apply to employees – they do not apply to members of the public, for example, with regard temperature complaints from customers in a shopping centre or cinema.
A guide developed by Barbour for working in the sun advises workers to:
• Keep your clothing on so that you do not expose unprotected areas
• Seek shade during the hottest part of the day
• Drink plenty of liquid – with one cup of water every 15 minutes in high heat
• And regularly check skin, look for any changed or newly-formed moles, or skin discolouration, particularly around the nose and eyes.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has recommended employers allow staff to adopt less formal attire when temperatures rise.
The TUC also recommends bosses ensure that outdoor workers have sun-screen and water and are given advice on the need to protect themselves from the heat and sun allow staff to take frequent breaks and provide a ready supply of cool drinks.
In addition, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union has also been running a campaign, which aims of setting a maximum temperature of between 27 and 30 degrees for workers in its sector, called Cool It.
“It would place duties on employers to provide additional breaks free refreshments and to reduce workplace temperatures. We have had some workplaces recording temp at 90 degrees and above which clearly unacceptable,” said the union’s national president, Ian Hodson.
“We are looking at linking it to our campaign around the environment with a charter that will look at committing employers to ensure they control heat by looking at ways it can be turned into energy or example.
“We have noticed most of the senior managers where high temperatures occur have air conditioned offices and in there cars we think it’s time that workers where afforded the same basis working conditions,” added Mr Hodson.
Coronavirus advice for employers
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