Working during the hot weather
Working during the hot weather
With the UK in the middle of a heatwave and reports suggesting that we may see further increases in temperature as the week goes on, it is important that you take precaution as an employer to ensure that working conditions remain safe for your employees. We’ve put togther a few suggestions on how you can best manage these rising temperatures in your workplace.
Keeping cool in work
While employers are not legally obligated to provide air conditioning in workplaces they are expected to provide reasonable temperatures. If you have air conditioning switch it on, and ensure the windows are shut, if you have blinds or curtains use them to block out sunlight.
Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and do not go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
Dress code in the workplace during hot weather
Employers often have a dress code in the workplace for many reasons such as health and safety, or workers may be asked to wear a uniform to communicate a corporate image. A dress code can often be used to ensure workers are dressed appropriately.
While employers are under no obligation to relax their dress code or uniform requirements during hot weather, they may choose to allow workers to wear more casual clothes, or allow “dress down” days and allow for employees to wear appropriate, light, loose-fitting clothing. This does not necessarily mean that shorts and flip flops are appropriate, but employers may choose to relax the rules in regards to wearing ties or suits.
The hot weather can make workers feel tired and less energetic especially for those who are young, older, pregnant or those on medication. Employers may wish to give workers, more frequent rest breaks and ensure ventilation is adequate by providing fans, or portable air cooling units.
Stay hydrated – employers must provide staff with suitable drinking water in the workplace. Workers should drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration and not wait until they are thirsty.
Who’s most at risk?
A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:
- older people, especially those over 75
- babies and young children
- people with a serious long-term condition, especially heart or breathing problems
- people with mobility problems – for example, people with Parkinson’s disease or who have had a stroke
- people with serious mental health problems
- people on certain medicines, including those that affect sweating and temperature control
- people who misuse alcohol or drugs
- people who are physically active – for example, labourers or those doing sports
Please be aware of heat stress
When you are too hot, your body will try to cool you down. It does this by increasing blood flow to the surface of the body, by sweating and by radiation and convection from the body’s surface. When your body cannot effectively do this, you can suffer from heat stress.
Symptoms of heat stress can include having a red face, excessive sweating, a heat rash, muscle cramps, dehydration and fainting. If allowed to continue, heat stress can cause heat exhaustion, and this is a severe disorder that can lead to death in extreme cases.
Ensure you look out for your colleagues and advise them to take a break or hydrate if they are showing signs of heat stress.
If you have any concerns or need any additional guidance on making reasonable adjustments within your workplace, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the HPC team.
P: 0844 800 5932