Top Tips For Working In The Heat

We just love to talk about the weather in the UK don’t we? And over the past few weeks its been a real hot topic of conversation.

The big, round, yellow thing in the sky has appeared and it hasn't showed any signs of going away just yet.

There will be some people who love this weather and the heat, but there will be others who are wishing for rain and for the temperature to drop a little.

While the MET Office released a warning this week asking people not to go outside and to only stay in doors, we know this isn’t a reality. We need to get to work, we need to go and do the food shop and reward ourselves with a cold beer in the pub garden.

There are some proactive measures that employees and employers can do to ensure that everybody is kept safe and healthy in the heat. 

Keeping The Office Cool

  • Turn the lights off
  • Wear light clothing
  • Stay hydrated
  • Turn off your appliances

The minimum temperature in a workplace should be at least 16 degrees Celsius. If the work involves a lot of physical effort, the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius.

There is no maximum temperature in a workplace. It is possible to work safely provided appropriate controls are present. For example, those that work in environments such as mines, boiler rooms, bakeries, kitchens and foundries, working in the heat is considered normal.

Employers are required to make a suitable assessment of the risks to health and safety of their employees, and take necessary action when needed.

Temperature in the workplace is a potential hazard that employers need to address to meet their legal obligations.

What is heat stress?

Heat stress can occur when the bodys means of controlling internal temperature starts to fail. The temperature is obviously the main factor, but other factors include work rate, humidity and clothing.

Heat stress can cause:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Heat rash
  • Severe thirst
  • Fainting
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Heat exhaustion

What about outdoor workers?

Someone wearing protective clothing and performing heavy and physical work in hot conditions could be at risk of heat stress because:

  • The body will gain more heat than it loses and the body temperature will continue to rise
  • Increased heart rate
  • As the body temperature rises, more sweat is produced & this can lead to dehydration
  • Sweat evaporation is restricted by clothing

What should you be doing as an employer?

Do a Heat Risk Assessment

 What are the risks? The main factors you need to consider are:

  • Work rate – The harder someone works the greater the body temperature
  • Employee clothing – may restrict temperature regulation
  • Working Climate – air temperature, humidity, working near a heat source and air movement

 What can I do to reduce the risks?

  • Control the temperature (use fans, air conditioning etc)
  • Prevent dehydration
  • Provide personal protective equipment or PPE (clothing that is specialised and incorporates cooling or breathable fabrics)
  • Training
  • Identify who is at risk (who is more susceptible to heat stress because of an illness or medical condition)
  • Monitor health of workers at risk
  • Acclimatisation (allow workers to acclimatise to their environment and identify which workers are assessed as fit to work in hot conditions)

There are around 35,000 new cases of skin cancer registered each year, and 1,600 result in deaths. Get to know your skin – how does your skin react to sunlight? Getting burned now may increase your chances of skin cancer many years later. Avoid getting burned, and always use sun cream with an SPF of 30 or more.

S – Stay hydrated

U – Use sun cream

N – Notice the signs of heat stress

S – Specialised PPE

A – Actively Monitor workers at risk

F – Fans & Air conditioning

E – Ensure you are wearing light & loose clothing

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