The Great British Summer

July 16, 2018

The Great British Summer has been a wash-out for years…but not in 2018. In the Lancaster and Morecambe area the summer of 2018 so far has lasted 7 weeks, and June was officially hotter than in 1976 #melting #toonicetobeatwork #weatherandworkadvice

 

We all wait anxiously for the summer to come around each year and in this part of the world we wait even more anxiously to see whether we will be lucky enough to get a few days or even a week’s worth of sunshine which is our summer, as is usually the case.  However 2018 is defying all expectations, with temperatures regularly either in the late 20s or even 30s and sunshine set to continue well into July.

Whilst some lucky people are out and about every day enjoying the sunshine, ice-cream, sand and sea, a thought (of pity) should be made for the working population who are stuck in oven-like offices or indeed working outdoors in extreme heat which we all know can be unpleasant.

Indeed, some of us are silently wishing for a couple of cold rainy days so we can feel like “normal” Brits for a while!

Let’s face it, if the summer continues to bring us lots of lovely sunshine, we might lose our identity!

In all seriousness though, it is important that when we are working during difficult conditions that we as employees look after ourselves and employers look after their workforce as well as possible.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to provide their staff with a safe and healthy working environment and safe systems of work.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess the risk to health and safety of their employees arising out of the work activity including the environment in which it takes place to determine the precautions they need to take to protect employees’ health and safety.

The Maximum Temperature allowed in the workplace

There is no specific maximum temperature as what is “reasonable” will depend on the nature of the work carried on.

In addition, setting a maximum temperature would be prescriptive and indeed most modern health and safety law is goal-setting – setting out what must be achieved, not how it must be done.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 lay down particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment. Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:

‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’

What is considered to be a “reasonable” temperature depends on:-

  • The type of work being done (manual/office work)
  • The type of workplace (e.g. kitchen or air conditioned office etc.)

Employers

  • Provide your staff with a working environment with a reasonable temperature.
  • Provide a suitable source of drinking water for your staff.
  • If any of your employees are vulnerable, including the very young or old, pregnant members of staff or those on medication, they may suffer more from tiredness/lack or energy and you may wish to consider giving them more frequent breaks and ensure that they are provided with fans or air conditioning units.
  • You may wish to consider relaxing the employees’ dress code, giving your employees “dress down” days or you could consider a simpler uniform for hot weather, although you are not obligated to do this.
  • If you do not have a policy in relation to weather related working issues and/or dress code then you may like to consider whether you require such a policy.
  • If you have a policy, then now might be a good time to re-circulate the policy amongst your staff and implement it.

Employees

  • Check that you can get to work on time. If you use Public Transport, weather conditions may affect availability so check to make sure that Public Transport will be available or, if not, arrange an alternative mode of transport.
  • If you have a fan/access to air conditioning – switch it on as soon as you get to work – but remember to switch it off.
  • Open Windows but don’t forget to shut them when the working day ends.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking water throughout your working day.
  • If you work outside, dress appropriately and use sunscreen to avoid sunburn.
  • If your employer offers you “dress down” days to cope, do not attend work in shorts and flip flops without checking whether this is appropriate.

For further advice or information, please contact Jenny Pearson on 01524 401010 or via email on jpp@bbpsolicitors.co.uk

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