During hot spells people always say it is too hot to work, unfortunately, there is no law for a maximum working temperature or when it’s too hot to work.
In offices or similar environments, the temperature in workplaces must be reasonable.
Employers must stick to health and safety at work law, including:
- Keeping the temperature at a comfortable level, sometimes known as thermal comfort
- Providing clean and fresh air
There are six factors to take into consideration:
- Air temperature, the current temperature of the air surrounding the body.
- The radiant temperature which may include heat projected from buildings, machinery, etc.
- Air velocity, the speed at which air is moving across the person.
- High humidity above 80% means that the body sweats less and will not cool down properly.
- Clothing insulation, wearing too much clothing or PPE may be a primary cause of heat stress even if the environment is not considered warm or hot.
- Metabolic heat, the more work physical work that we do the more heat we generate and individuals physical fitness also have to be taken into consideration.
A simple way of estimating the level of thermal comfort in your workplace is to ask your employees or their safety representatives (such as unions or employee associations) to use the Thermal comfort checklist from the HSE website (this is only used for guidance)
There a number of things that you can do to improve your working conditions during hot or humid weather:
- Use high-speed fans to help break the moisture barrier on the skin and this can drop the perceived temperature by 4 – 10 degrees.
- Cooldown areas if working in hot environments with air conditioning and cold water provided.
- Temporary administrative controls include planning and rescheduling work times and practices as well as rest schedules. An example being scheduling ‘hot’ work for cooler times of the day or allowing employees to have flexible hours to help avoid the worst effects of working in high temperatures.
- Where possible, remove all restrictions that may prevent employees from making minor adjustments to their clothing or work rate.
- If PPE is worn, make sure that employees are not wearing more PPE than is appropriate (i.e. a higher protection factor than is needed).
Want to know more?
Further information can be found on the HSE website and remember these simple checks are no excuse for not carrying out a formal risk assessment on working conditions even if this situation is only temporary.
For more details on training have a look at my website LWS Training Services or give me a call for a friendly chat on 07974 407988.