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How to Help Your Employees Keep Cool as Temperatures Soar

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With the heat wave continuing to keep temperatures soaring  - as an employer it’s important to remember your duty of care towards your staff.

hlw Keeble Hawson LogoWhile some employees will be benefiting from air conditioning in premises including offices, shops and restaurants - top temperatures in factories and older office accommodation could not only become uncomfortable and oppressive  - but could also pose a health and safety risk for workers.

While the legal minimum temperature for workplaces is 16 degrees Celsius,  there is no maximum temperature  - something which the TUC is seeking to address by calling for one to be set at 30 degrees Celsius (or 27 degrees Celsius for strenuous jobs).

In the absence of any specific rule, an employer’s obligation falls under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 in providing a safe place of work as well as the common law duty of care towards employees.

Here are some reasonable steps you can take to avoid placing your employees at risk from soaring temperatures in terms of either accommodation, methods of work, equipment or clothing.

  • Providing access to sufficient drinks (especially cold drinks)
  • Hiring mobile fans or air-conditioning units to cool the workplace
  • Where appropriate allowing employees to relax uniform rules for added comfort e.g. by being permitted to wear short sleeved shirts/t-shirts or even shorts.
  • For staff working in very high temperatures  - for example with machinery in factories  - consider limiting the time that each employee spends in such conditions and allow them additional breaks in cool areas (if no such areas exist,  consider allowing them to sit in their cars if they have air conditioning).
  • Consider re-locating employees with medical conditions that may be affected by heat to cooler areas of the building.
  • Regularly monitor temperatures.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article please contact Andrew Lightburn on 0113 3993437 or andrewlightburn@hlwkeeblehawson.co.uk

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