Feeling the heat: too hot to work?

July 20, 2018
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With the current heatwave set to continue and the summer holidays not yet begun temperature in the workplace can be a hot topic.

In the UK there is no set maximum temperature for a workplace, however regulations do require that temperature should be reasonable, exactly what is reasonable will depend on the type of workplace.

Irrespective of whether the heat is generated by the weather conditions or the activities being carried out, working in hot conditions can lead to dehydration and heat stress, with the added complications of skin being exposed to too much sunlight for outdoor workers.

When considering thermal comfort for your employees, you should consider environmental factors such as air temperature, thermal radiation from heat sources, air velocity (i.e. air movement) and humidity and personal factor such as clothing and work rate. Clothing can have a big impact on comfort, sometimes it is necessary to wear types of clothing e.g. for protective suits or breathing equipment for working with hazardous chemicals, in these cases it may be necessary to adjust the amount of work and rate of work that employees are required to do.

If you or your employees work outdoors the HSE recommend the following tips to avoid over exposure to the sun:

  • Keep your top on.
  • Wear a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks and especially at lunch time.
  • Use a high factor sunscreen on any exposed skin.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor promptly if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding.

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact if you have any questions about workplace temperature and thermal comfort.