Working in hot weather – the legal position
The lovely 2021 weather continues, and it’s hotting up, although there is no sign yet that it’s approaching the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK – 38.7°C recorded in Cambridge Botanic Garden on 25 July a couple of years back .
And with predictions of a hot spell ahead, employers may wonder if there is a maximum legal workplace temperature, and if so what it is.
“In a nutshell there isn’t a maximum temperature detailed in any health and safety legislation. However, workplace regulations do state that ‘temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable during working hours’.
Although there is no level in the regulations, the Health and Safety Executive has issued guidance indicating temperatures of up to 30C are a reasonable limit.
But bear in mind this is pretty hot – and although there is no automatic right to leave work, productivity and staff satisfaction is going to be really hard to maintain if your workplace is consistently that hot.
Hot at Work ? Our tips for sunny weather?
Despite the lack of a formal maximum temperature, employers would be well advised to take sensible precautions to protect their workers in hot weather both to keep the staff comfortable and productive and might consider the following steps:
1. Relaxing the workplace dress code – light colours are better than dark ones which absorb heat more, and looser clothing lets air get in
2. Installing portable air conditioning units and fans.
3. Preventing direct sunlight entering the building – e.g. by using blinds or putting reflective film onto windows.
4. Providing staff with chilled water coolers. Encourage everyone to remain properly hydrated.
5. Suggest staff avoid sitting in too hot a place for a long period of time.
6. Encouraging flexible working hours for home working where appropriate.
Interested on other workplace rules practices in difficult weather? It can actually be too cold to work. Government guidelines recommend 16C (61F) as the minimum working temperature – and 13C (55F)), if workers are doing physical work. Click here for tips about on Work Snow Days
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