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WORKING IN EXTREME TEMPERATURES

The Met Office have issued an AMBER EXTREME HEAT WARNING, as temperatures look to rise later this week and into next week. The amber warning highlights likely adverse health affects for the public, not just those vulnerable to extreme heat. So what does this mean for our working environments ?

THE LAW – There is no law on maximum working temperatures. However during working hours the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be ‘reasonable’. Employers have a duty to keep the temperature at a comfortable level and provide clean and fresh air.

The Health and Safety Executive suggest employers help ensure thermal comfort in warm conditions by:

  • providing fans, eg desk, pedestal or ceiling-mounted fans
  • ensuring that windows can be opened
  • shading employees from direct sunlight with blinds or by using reflective film on windows to reduce the heating effects of the sun
  • siting workstations away from direct sunlight or other situations or objects that that radiate heat (eg plant or machinery)
  • relaxing formal dress code – but you must ensure that personal protective equipment is provided and used if required
  • allowing sufficient breaks to enable employees to get cold drinks or cool down
  • providing additional facilities, eg cold water dispensers (water is preferable to caffeine or carbonated drinks)
  • introducing formal systems of work to limit exposure, eg flexible working patterns, job rotation, workstation rotation etc
  • placing insulating materials around hot plant and pipes
  • providing air-cooling or air-conditioning plant

More information on how to keep yourself safe in and out of the workplace during the heatwave can be found below:

HSE https://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/thermal/managers.htm

The UKHSA health-heat alerts are in place until Friday (15 July). More information is available at:https://www.gov.uk/government/news/heat-health-alert-issued-by-the-uk-health-security-agency

The TUC is providing resources to workers on how to adjust workplaces to cope with extreme heat: Too hot, too cold – Too hot, too cold (tuceducation.org.uk)

NHS advice

Heatwave: how to cope in hot weather – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

If any of our members need help and support with working in extreme temperatures, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone 0800 954 9915 or by email Unison@Barnardos.org.uk