Dealing with the heat in the workplace can be exhausting
With the Met Office issuing its first "Red Extreme" and "danger to life" heat warning for this week, and temperatures in some places reaching 40°C, it's important workers are protected. Working in excessive heat is not only uncomfortable but can be dangerous too.
Workers should be aware that employers have a duty of care, and a legal obligation to protect their health, ensuring working temperatures are reasonable, comfortable and safe.
So, here’s some guidance for those (rare) occasions when it might get uncomfortably hot in your workplace…
Whilst there’s no legal maximum temperature, the Workplace Regulations 1992 states that employers must provide a 'reasonable' temperature in the workplace.
It’s usually accepted that most people work best at a temperature between 16-24°C, and the Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers recommends a good working temperature for an office is between 20-24°C.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to make a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees and take action where necessary/reasonably practicable.
What support you can expect
Here are some things you can ask management to do if you’re feeling too hot to work:
- Allow sufficient comfort breaks to enable you to get cold drinks or cool down, and now that we're all wearing face masks get some fresh air too
- Provide fans e.g. desk, pedestal, or ceiling-mounted fans
- Ensure that windows can be opened and shade employees from direct sunlight with blinds
- Relax the dress code
- Provide cold drinking water
- Introduce temporary formal systems of work to limit exposure, e.g. flexible working patterns, job rotation, workstation rotation etc.
- Provide air-cooling
There is further information and guidance available from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and some useful resources from the TUC:Visit the HSE for further guidance Visit the TUC for advice and resources