Feeling the Heat at Work

22nd June, 2017 under Employment Law by Sara Devennie

The Summer is finally here and so is the sunshine…for now! With increasing temperatures comes an increasing number of questions about safe working conditions during periods of warm weather.

One common myth is that if temperatures reach a certain point that employees have to be sent home. In fact, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/3004) state that, during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings should be ‘reasonable’. They do not provide for a strict maximum working temperature. Rather what is ‘reasonable’ will depend on the type of workplace and type of work being done.

Health and safety legislation applies whatever the weather, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn to avoid the risk of injury. However, it may be prudent for an employer to let workers remove PPE between periods of exposure to enable them to cool down.

There is no right to additional breaks in warmer weather, but Health and Safety Executive guidance recommends that in warm weather employers make working conditions as comfortable as possible by, for example, providing fans or the opportunity to access to drinking/cooling facilities (http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/index.htm). This will avoid the risk of workers suffering from heat stress or dehydration, for example.

Employers may also choose to relax dress codes, where appropriate, but must ensure that this is done in a non-discriminatory manner.

If you have any questions about your working conditions or employment rights, then we can help. Here at Beecham Peacock we have a trusted relationship with some of the largest trade unions in the country to protect your working rights. For further information call us on 0191 232 3048 or email enquire@beechampeacock.co.uk.

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