Breaking guidelines for working in the heat is the same as breaking the highway code, says a video produced by GMB union to help workers know their rights for working in extreme heat.
Heat stress ‘not part of the job’ urges video
The video reminds workers that they are entitled under HSE guidelines to regular breaks in a cool place, which can help keep the body temperature down.
It says that employers should also organise work so that nobody is working in the hottest times of the day.
The video was shared today as the Met Office confirmed a second heatwave this week. Temperatures will build from 28C or 29C today and reach the low to mid-30s from Thursday until Sunday.
The UK Health Security Agency and the Met Office have also today issued a Level 3 heat-health alert for all parts of England.
It comes as a motion by MPs to set upper-temperature limits for workplaces recently gained 51 signatures. However, government has faced such calls before. Asked what steps were being taken to set a maximum temperature, House of Lords peer Baroness Steadman-Scott, said that health and safety laws already require employers to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in indoor workplaces.
“Responsibility to make workplaces safe and healthy lies with employers, who should consult with employees or their representatives to establish sensible means to cope with high temperatures,” she said in a written parliamentary answer.
HSE says there is no maximum temperature because workplaces with hot processes (such as bakeries, glass works or foundries) would not be able to comply with such requirements.
However, if our hot weather becomes a common fixture of summer, things could change. In this post, lawyers Hannah Lynn and Amanda Steadman at Brahams Dutt Badrick French LLP write: “As temperatures are only set to rise in the coming years, it looks like this is going to become a hot topic, with the possibility of stricter regulation in future.”
Climate change is a reality that requires employers to adapt to protect people, said HSE. In a statement during the latest heatwave, HSE said: "Extreme heat that we have witnessed of late isn't going to stop and we want employers to plan and respond to this now."
John Rowe, HSE's Acting Head of Operational Strategy, said: "We expect employers to take this recent weather event as the prompt to review how they assess the risk of high temperatures in their workplace and identify now those changes that will future proof them.
"All workplaces need to acknowledge that the working environment is changing. There are low-cost adaptations to the structure of work, but things like improved ventilation and air conditioning should also be considered which will involve investment in the workplace."
Temperature: employees' guide: https://bit.ly/3AbFbtV
Temperature: What the law says: https://bit.ly/3zLhSWm
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