Written by Gareth Martin, 6th September 2023
Whilst the summer months this year have been a far cry from the unprecedented heat of last year, every parent across the UK will this week have no doubt muttered the words, “typical as soon as the kids go back to school”, or words to that effect. That’s because as sure as night follows day, we can always rely on the sun to come out when schools go back and this year has been no different with temperatures on Monday and Tuesday in the high 20s and predicted to last for the rest of the week.
When is it too hot to work?
For some it will be a welcome break from the rain (and the kids) but with many people having gone back to office based work, at least some of the time, there will be grumblings of, “oh it is too hot to work”. The question is, therefore, when is it too hot to work?
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately depending on your position in the business, there is no legal maximum temperature for workplaces, rather employers are simply encouraged to be responsible, including by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who last year saw a surge in people seeking advice and raising concerns.
Measures to consider for employers
It will come as no surprise, nor should it, that employers must ensure that workers are safe and protected during periods of extreme weather, which should be treated as a hazard and risk assessed accordingly.
Whilst we all know that the “good weather” may not last for very long, there are simple and cost effective measures which every employer ought to consider not only this week but in the days, weeks, months and years ahead because such extreme weather is likely to be a regular occurrence as a result of ongoing climate change. Those measures may include:
- Introducing a relaxed or “dress for your day” dress code (where appropriate)
- Offering flexible working so that workers can work at cooler times of the day
- Ensuring that windows can be opened or closed as this will prevent hot air from building up/circulating
- Fitting blinds to workplace windows to shade workers from the sun
- Positioning or re-positioning workstations away from direct sunlight and heat sources
- Providing free access to drinking water
- Providing weather-appropriate PPE and ensuring safe and appropriate use of the same including proper rest periods
This is not an exhaustive list and every business and environment will vary but the key point is safety and acting to ensure that your employees and indeed non-employees are safe when they come to work or visit your premises.