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Advice Re Working In Hot Weather

Working during hot weather, either outdoors or indoors, can certainly lead to an increase in accidents, injuries or medical conditions.

Some, unenlightened employers, see this as just a seasonal irritation over which they have no control and so have little or no inclination to do anything about looking into control measures.  GMB however believes that all members have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment.

Working outdoors –  GMB members who work outdoors face some very clear dangers from hot weather and exposure to sunlight.  There is an increased risk from sunstroke, sunburn and heat exhaustion particularly when work is physically strenuous.  The effects of high temperatures are made worse by other environmental factors.  Heat stress is more likely to occur if the air is humid, the airs still, there is direct heat radiation, and the exposure is for long periods.

Employers have a clear legal duty to provide you with a safe and healthy workplace there is a need to carry out a risk assessment to determine the extent of the problem which might affect you.  Action should be taken to reduce the extent of the problem.

This could include: –

– Relaxation of uniform ** NOTE PPE such as Hi-Viz must still be worn.

– Hats and neck protection could be provided / allowed to be worn.

– The supply of sunscreen, which should be high protection (15 plus)

– More frequent breaks

– Supply free cold drinks.

– If possible, arrange the working day so that at the time of greatest heat, generally between 11am and 3pm, there is an opportunity to work in the shade.

Working indoors – Rising temperatures increases the likelihood of fatigue which in turn leads to an increase in accidents.  As the temperature goes up people sweat without moving, stress levels rise, concentration levels fall, mistakes increase, productivity goes down and accident levels rise. In addition, if you are doing manual work there is a greater loss of fluids leading to dehydration and potential heat stress as the core body temperature rises.  All of these problems become worse if the humidity is also high. When the body is unable to cool itself through sweating as the air is already loaded with moisture

Is there a maximum temperature in work?

Surprisingly there is no legal maximum temperature for working indoors.  The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that temperatures within workplaces must be reasonable.

Where this cannot be put in place there needs to be control measures put in place for the safety of the workforce.

To enable your workplace to have a reasonable temperature employers should take the following measures: –

– Relaxation of uniform ** NOTE PPE must still be worn

– Utilise Air Conditioning where available. Where not available provide good ventilation by utilising open windows / fans etc.

– More frequent breaks

– Supply free cold drinks.

– Relaxation / elimination of performance targets

NOTE FOR THOSE WITH MEDICAL CONDITIONS WHICH ARE IMPACTED BY HEAT.

There are some medical conditions which can be made worse by the heat.

These can include, but are not limited to: – Migraines, MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Rosacea, Asthma and COPD.

If you suffer from ANY medical condition which is being impacted by the heat speak with your manager immediately to see what measures can be put in place to assist you.

If the measures above are not being implemented where you work then it appears your management may not be aware they need to care for their workers.

As such please speak to your GMB Steward in at work or contact your branch, so that GMB can correctly educate your management teams.

Finally, if you have suffered from heat exhaustion or heat stress within work you should insist that this is correctly recorded as an injury at work.  Also make contact GMB so that we can investigate if your employer was negligent in their actions.

 

Posted: 19th July 2022

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