Heat-health alerts prompt calls to keep workers safe

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A dip in the sea and relaxing under a sun brolly might be the way to survive the heat on holiday. But for those of us working – particularly outdoor workers – hot weather is not quite as fun.

And with temperatures set to climb into early next week for much of England and Wales, reaching temperatures of up to 40 degrees, employers need to be aware of the impact on their staff.

Rachel Suff, wellbeing adviser for professional HR body the CIPD, advised employers to embrace flexible working: “Where possible, employers should be flexible with working arrangements and allow people to work from home in very hot weather if they will be more comfortable and productive at home. Commuting can be arduous in hot weather, so allowing people to stagger their start and finish times to avoid travelling at peak rush hour could help.”

There's no law in the UK for maximum working temperature, or when it's too hot to work.

The TUC recommends keeping workplace buildings cool by opening windows, using fans, and moving staff away from windows or sources of heat. Working in more casual clothing than normal – leaving the jackets and ties at home – will also help keep people cool. 

HSE says workers should also have easy access to cool water and be encouraged to drink it frequently in small amounts before, during and after working. Employers should also provide periodic rest breaks and rest facilities in cooler conditions.

The Met office announced yesterday it would extend its Amber warning – which was issued for Sunday and Monday – to Tuesday 19 July. It highlights it is likely there will be ‘adverse health effects’ for the public, not just limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at UKHSA, said: “Heat-health alerts have now been issued to the majority of the country, with temperatures set to remain consistently high throughout the duration of this week. 

“Most of us can enjoy the hot weather when it arrives, but it is important to keep yourself hydrated and to find shade where possible when UV rays are strongest, between 11am and 3pm. 

“If you have vulnerable family, friends and neighbours, make sure they are aware of how they can keep themselves protected from the warm weather.’’

There's no law for maximum working temperature, or when it's too hot to work. However, HSE says that: “in offices or similar environments, the temperature in workplaces must be reasonable.”

HSE: is it too hot to work? Advice page here

TUC advice here



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