Working conditions in high temperatures
With the Met Office predicting 30-degree heat for early September, we look at the regulations around working temperatures and conditions in the workplace.
Some jobs entail working in hot conditions every day, but many of us just aren’t used to it. Our offices are not set up to deal with high temperatures as they are on the continent.
There isn’t a maximum office temperature in law. The advice from the Health and Safety Executive is that workplace temperatures need to be reasonable. What is reasonable depends on the type of workplace and the work being done. It is reasonable for a kitchen where a chef works to be hotter than an office where an administrator sits.
ACAS has issued guidance on working in hot temperatures. There are common sense ways to address the heat and keep employees happy. If you have air conditioning, turn it on. Use blinds to block out sunlight and fans to keep the air moving. If your workers are outside, they should wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. All workers should be advised to drink lots of water to keep hydrated. Vulnerable workers such as pregnant women may need extra breaks or their own fans or air cooling units. Employers may also choose to relax dress codes to make employees more comfortable.
As always, a little goes a long way. Going out and getting your staff an ice-cold drink or buying a round of ice creams can take the edge off a hot afternoon in the office and buy a little bit of goodwill into the bargain.