22 Jul Safe working in the Summer
Safe working in the Summer Heat
It’s already a HOT summer and predictions are that temperatures may peak even higher. So are there aspects of working in the heat that, as an employer, you can consider?
To answer one question you may have: “Are there laws governing what protection steps you have to take regarding work procedures?”
The answer is no, there is no law for maximum working temperature, or when it is too hot to work. Under the Health and Safety at Work laws, with regard to the indoor workplace, employers must keep the temperature at a comfortable level, known as “thermal comfort”, providing clean and fresh air.
Am I subject to Health and Safety regulations?
If you employ a person as domestic staff in your home you are not subject to Health and Safety regulations. However, the information they publish can be helpful when dealing with the heat.
For staff working indoors, HSE recomment that the termperature should be “reasonable”. If, however, you employ gardeners and others working with chemicals, sprays, etc., the situation may well be different and you are advised to check.
For those employees working outdoors, HSE have the following helpful advice:
Consider how physically demanding the job is, whether your workers’ clothing can protect them from sun exposure and extreme temperatures. Take into account factors like age or medical conditions that might make working in hot temperatures more difficult for certain workers.
Make sure your staff: take regular breaks, stay hydrated, use high-factor sun cream – preferably a minimum of SPF-15, avoid working in direct sunlight as much as possible and wear a head covering. One point to bear in mind…you can’t make your workers wear sun cream, but you should provide it and encourage them to use it.
Although the current situation does not stipulate maximum working temperatures this may change. In recent weeks there have been two moves to change the law in this regard.
Firstly, two large unions, GMB and the TUC have both called on the government to introduce a legal limit on how hot it can be in a workplace. The GMB wants to see a maximum workplace temperature of 25C enshrined in law, while the TUC wants there to be a requirment to stop work if indoor temperatures reach 30c, or 27C for those doing strenuous jobs.
Secondly, the issue has recently been raised in parliament with a number of MPs backing the call for a maximum workplace temperature via an early day motion. The motion states that if a maximum temperature of 30C is reached, or 27C for strenuous work, then employers should have a statutory duty to introduce control measures, such as ventilation or move staff away from windows and sources of heat.
We will keep you updated with developments.
The Graham Agency, keeping you informed.