Hot and Bothered – Can I Stop Working?

July 3, 2019
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With record temperatures predicted for western Europe and the summer holidays not yet begun temperature in the workplace can be a hot topic.

While regulations do state that “During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable” in the UK there is no set maximum temperature for a workplace and the regulation does not apply to outdoor workplaces.

What is reasonable will depend on the workplace, a reasonable temperature in an office may not be the same as a reasonable temperature in a bakery.

Working in very hot or very conditions can lead to dehydration and heat / cold stress, with the added complications of skin being exposed to too much high levels of UV radiation for outdoor workers.

Factors to bear in mind when considering the thermal comfort of your employees include:

  • air temperature;
  • thermal radiation from heat sources;
  • air velocity (i.e. air movement);
  • humidity; and
  • personal factor such as clothing and work rate.

The HSE have a number of recommendations for improving thermal comfort in your workplace including:

  • Relaxing formal dress codes and letting people add or remove layers depending on temperature. Of course sometimes it is necessary to wear special clothing e.g. for visibility or protection against hazards. In these cases it may be necessary to adjust the amount of work and rate of work that employees are required to do.
  • Controlling ventilation and air movement e.g. by providing fans, ensuring windows can be opened and radiators turned off and that any air conditioning systems are maintained.
  • Moving work stations away from hot processes or plant.
  • Providing shade and avoiding work in direct sunlight.
  • Adjusting working hours or rescheduling work to avoid the hottest times of day.
  • Providing access to drinking water; and
  • Providing more frequent rest breaks and providing shaded areas for taking breaks in.

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk management contact or get in touch using [email protected]  if you have any questions workplace temperature and thermal comfort.