Heatwave – When is it too hot to work?
Office Chairs UK, 28/06/2018
With a heatwave approaching and the weather only looking warm for the foreseeable, the big question on everybody’s mind is – when is it too hot to work?
Currently, in the UK there is no specific law that outlines when the workplace becomes too hot to work in (though the TUC are trying to change this). However, the Workplace Regulations Act 1992 (Health Safety, and Welfare), does outline that working conditions must be deemed reasonable and safe.
So, what are your rights? When the temperatures soar, employers should make sure that the working environment is safe to work in and procedures should be put in place to prevent employees from discomfort and danger from the heat.
This means the employer is responsible for ensuring the air is clean, fresh and good ventilation is in place throughout the office.
Uniforms or workwear policies should become flexible as employees should not face dangerous and uncomfortable situations just to follow usual strict guidelines.
When blazing hot it is perfectly acceptable for employees to adapt their behaviour, and slower working should be acceptable. (Though of course within reason)
So, what temperatures are acceptable? Although there is no actual law on this, it is advised that temperatures in the work place should not rise above 30 degrees or 27 degrees when carrying strenuous work.
So, when is it too hot work? It’s a complicated question. There are now laws set in stone, just guidance. But cool working procedures such as uniform, fans and flexible working (if possible) should be put in place when it hits 24 degrees to ease the high temperature and make for a comfortable environment if it were to rise even more.
So, with temperatures set to soar over the next few weeks and most British work places not equipped to cope with the heat, maintaining productivity levels isn’t always easy so read our top tips for keeping cool at work below...
Tips for keeping cool at work
- Wear loose and comfortable clothing – drop the work attire when temperatures soar and opt for baggy, light and casual clothing.
- Allow for air circulation – extra fans may need to put in place. When the warning of a heatwave is in place, it is best to think about this as soon as possible. By the day the heatwave hits you can almost guarantee every shop will be sold out fans!
- Rearrange - For employees who sit by a window or in the sun it would be a good idea to have a temporary rearrange to a more shaded position, and if not possible at least, close the blinds/curtains.
- Stay hydrated - Encourage staff to keep hydrated with extra bottles of water and water bottles that have been frozen overnight. If need be lay on an extra provision of cold drinks.
- Don’t sit in the sun – Don’t be tempted to sit in the sun on in break times, it won’t make cooling down and working back in the office any easier.
- Turn the lights off – The sun is shining and the heat is rising already. Electrical items like lights, servers, printer and computers all produce excess heat so where possible, turn them off!
Ultimately, it is the employers responsibility to decide when the workplace is too hot to work but there are things they can put in place, and that you can do to make working in the heat easier and more productive.