With the prospect of warm weather finally coming to the UK, we thought we would provide some guidance to employers so they understand their responsibilities in relation to staff and rising workplace temperatures.
There is a common misconception that the law currently provides a maximum workplace temperature, above which staff may be sent home but this is not the case. There is no maximum or minimum temperature but employers should make preparations to ensure staff are comfortable during extreme temperatures.
The law is vague on this but it does state that during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be ‘reasonable’. The Health & Safety Executive has previously defined thermal comfort as roughly between 13°C (55°F) and 30°C (86°F).
While the law may not be clear cut it makes sense for firms to put measures in place to combat extreme heat. Not doing so can lead to disruption among employees and create unnecessary friction. Our top tips are:
Consider the work environment:
These measures may not be enough however, and staff may flood management with complaints about discomfort caused by the heat. In these cases the HSE recommends undertaking a risk assessment. A thermal comfort risk assessment should be carried out if 10% of staff in air-conditioned workplaces, 15% in naturally ventilated offices or 20% in business warehouses and factories complain of workplace discomfort.
Ideally employers should consult with their workforce early, take note of any causes of discomfort and take any action that can reduce discomfort caused by extreme workplace temperatures. By making a genuine effort to create a comfortable working atmosphere in extreme temperatures, employers can put the welfare of their staff first and avoid hot tempers flaring up during the hot weather.
For further guidance or support, get in touch with the HPC team today.