Health & Safety – Soaring Temperatures in the workplace

With soaring temperatures over the Summer those of us who have not been lucky enough to take time off and enjoy the sunshine in our gardens have to face the uncomfortable conditions of commuting to work and then having to work. All employees have rights in hot weather and it is your duty as an employer to ensure that your company is compliant. Current regulations place a legal obligation on employers to provide a “reasonable” temperature in the workplace.

So, what is reasonable?

Reasonable is quite vague. Everyone reacts to the heat differently and it is not always feasible to have air conditioning installed. Thankfully there are several things you can do to make the office environment more comfortable and fulfil your health & safety obligations.

  • Provide fans so air is circulated round the room.
  • Ensure staff have access to fresh cold water so they can keep hydrated.
  • Low energy light bulbs will reduce the heat in the office.
  • Allow staff extra breaks, especially during the hottest times of the day.
  • Relax your dress code. Allow smart shorts if necessary and if temperatures build up too much in your work place.
  • If possible, leave windows open overnight or open them up early in the morning.

Most importantly, be vigilant! Look out for the signs of heat stress and act accordingly.

Things are a little different if your workplace is outdoors. Just because you are not in an office environment, doesn’t mean that your responsibilities end. You will need to ensure that your staff are acting in a safe manner and are taking all necessary precautions.

  • Ensure that tops are kept on.
  • Hats with brims or covers that cover the back of necks should be worn if safe to do so.
  • Ensure staff have access to fresh cold water so they can keep hydrated.
  • If staff do not need to be out in the sun all the time, encourage them to work in shaded areas. Consider job rotation to reduce exposure times.
  • Encourage staff to apply a high factor sunscreen of at least SPF30 on any exposed skin.
  • Provide staff with awareness training regarding the risks of skin cancer and working in the sun.

As the UK doesn’t get many heatwaves a year and we are normally used to working in wet damp conditions, it is important that we do prepare for the odd days of extreme heat.

JCH Safety are qualified, local and friendly experts who work for you. We are an occupational health and safety consultancy helping businesses across Coventry, Warwickshire and the West Midlands to improve their compliance with health and safety legislation. Our objective is to protect you, your business and your team from harm and prosecution, without creating administrative burdens.

Contact us now to speak to one of our Health & Safety Consultants