Written by SALLY-ANN HALL-JONES
The sun is out, the sky is blue and the temperatures are rising – great news for those of us who love the summer. However, some people struggle in the sun and for employers, there are potential pitfalls to negotiate when a heatwave hits.
While it’s an urban myth that there is a legal “maximum temperature” that a workplace should be, employers are obliged to make sure working conditions are reasonable.
In many cases – particularly for employees who work outside, or in offices that suffer from a lack of air conditioning or poor ventilation – there are simple common sense steps that can be taken to ensure staff stay comfortable and safe:
- Relax the dress code. For example, if you work in an environment where ties are common, let staff remove them during the hot spell. Some employers find shorts and sandals acceptable – go as far as you can while still maintaining a professional, appropriate appearance.
- Check air conditioning units and fans are in good working order. Consider buying or hiring this kind of equipment if you don’t have it already.
- Ensure there is adequate protection for outside workers – that means enough personal protective equipment, hats and sunblock.
- Get the drinks in! The recommendation is that we drink four to six glasses a day during hot weather, so expect a run on the water cooler. Ensure it’s well stocked with enough to go round.
- Think about vulnerable people. If you employ older workers, people who are pregnant or those with disabilities, make sure they are especially well provided for.
- Brief first aiders. Ensure they are aware of individuals who may be especially vulnerable in the heat. Brush up on dehydration, heat stroke, and the safe ways to cool down.