Friday, 09 June 2023 13:09

Employer Responsibilities When it Gets Hot

We usually post a blog or two every year about the weather. We’re good at talking about it in the UK; it’s always a reliable source of conversation. It does seem though that over recent years we’ve been talking about more extremes. More severe weather in the Winter and much hotter temperatures in the Summer.

Temperatures are due to soar this weekend and the Met Office have issued an amber warning for heat as parts of the UK are predicted to be hotter than Ibiza and Tenerife.

There’s a lot more of the summer left to go so this may just be the beginning of an uncomfortably hot and potentially dangerous period of warm weather. Even though we’ve written about it before, it’s worth reminding ourselves of our duties as employers to our staff, and this includes providing a safe and comfortable environment in which to work.

We should also consider that keeping your employees comfortable will keep them productive too, so taking some steps to manage the environment is a win-win.

Remember, there is no such thing as Maximum Workplace Temperature. What the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) refers to is the “thermal comfort” of employees. Air temperature alone therefore should not be the sole consideration. Employers should take into account air flow, humidity and where appropriate, employees’ own clothing, which in some cases may be constrained by health and safety requirements.

For those of us working in an enclosed environment such as an office, factory or warehouse, there are some fairly straightforward, low to zero cost measures that employers can take:

  • Ensure airflow through the building is sufficient
  • Where possible, open windows and doors or provide fans
  • Make drinks readily available and encourage employees to take an extra break
  • Consider alternative shift patterns or working hours ie. earlier start and finish times
  • Introduce a comfort zone where the temperature can be controlled and allow managed and perhaps rotated access to it
  • Relax the dress code, within reason
  • Investigate the possibility of alternative working environments. eg. Another building, outside
  • Pay special attention to those at higher risk ie. pregnant or older employees.

Special provisions may need to be made in environments that intrinsically produce heat; in a bakery for example. And of course care homes and nurseries have added responsibilities to the people in their care. Air-conditioning units, both fixed and mobile, can be considered although, the high cost of running them, plus the fact that the heat they expel only adds to the environmental issues that initiates their use, does make them a questionable solution. We must consider our priorities in such circumstances.

If the luxury of air conditioning is something you use of at work, inviting those employees who work from home back into the workplace could be a good idea. Again, this is particularly pertinent for any vulnerable individuals such as those who are pregnant or who have underlying health conditions.

For outdoor workers, you should provide shade or cover, especially during the hottest times of the day. You may be able to schedule the workload to accommodate this, or you may have to find a creative way to provide shade from the sun. Make sure plenty of water is available and you may want to think about issuing sunscreen.

Finally, because we are all human, let’s not forget that the heat can affect us in a multitude of ways. Look out for:

  • General irritability leading to conflict with other employees
  • Tiredness, resulting in accidents
  • Higher stress levels and associated ailments

A round of ice-creams might be a welcome distraction and keep your staff feeling relaxed.

Whatever the weather, we’re on hand to support with employee issues. Call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 720 times Last modified on Friday, 09 June 2023 13:29


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