It might not happen often, but this week the UK will swelter in soaring temperatures and while those of you lucky enough to be on holiday during this week will enjoy the fantastic weather in your gardens what about us poor workers when the mercury rises?
Rules around temperatures in the indoor workplace are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The regulations place a legal obligation on employers to provide a “reasonable” temperature in the workplace.
However, while there is a minimum working temperature, there is no statutory upper limit.
Employers should consult with employees or their representatives to establish sensible means to cope with high temperatures.
The HSE offers guidance on workplace temperatures including details on carrying out an optional thermal comfort risk assessment if employees are unhappy with the temperature – Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – Temperature.
However here are a few helpful tips about working in the heat:
Getting to work…
Generally hot weather shouldn’t affect journeys to work, but occasionally in the UK there might be an impact on public transport if temperatures go over a certain level. Train companies may limit the speed of trains in case the tracks buckle which may result in the late arrival of your train. You should check with your local train company to see if speed restrictions are in place or cancellations are expected and plan accordingly.
Keeping cool at work…
While employers are not legally obliged to provide air conditioning in workplaces they are expected to provide reasonable temperatures. If you have air conditioning switch it on, if you have blinds or curtains use them to block out sunlight and if you’re working outside wear appropriate clothing and use sun screen to protect from sunburn.
It is also important to drink plenty of water and employers must provide you with suitable drinking water in the workplace. It is important to drink water regularly throughout the day and not to wait until you are thirsty as this is an indication that you are already dehydrated.
Here at HR Revolution we will be out at lunch time buying our employees a tasty ice cream treat!!! #keepingHRRevolutioncool.
Increase rest breaks where necessary…
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 these workers, more frequent rest breaks and ensure ventilation is adequate by providing fans, or portable air cooling units.
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, some may allow employees to wear more casual clothes, or allow “dress down” days. This does not necessarily mean that shorts and flip flops are appropriate, rather employers may relax the rules in regards to wearing ties or suits.
If you need any further guidance give HR Revolution a call and see how we could help.