Acas has issued advice for employers on their responsibilities for workers’ health and safety during the hot weather.
With the Met Office warning that temperatures could rise to 35C this week, Acas has reminded employers that they have health and safety obligations to their staff and has encouraged businesses to follow steps to minimise the impact.
Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said: “The warm summer weather may be a blessing for some, but many staff going into work on one of the hottest weeks of the year will not appreciate the heat.
“Some employees, such as pregnant women or older staff, may also be adversely affected by the extreme heat. The heat can also impact public transport too, which can affect employees commuting into work.
“Acas has produced some tips for employers to help make sure their businesses remain productive during the hot weather and ensure staff are also happy and comfortable.”
Workplace temperatures should be reasonable – the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) advice is that the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings must be reasonable, including home working. The HSE offers advice on how to carry out a thermal comfort risk assessment, which should be carried out by employers, including when staff are working from home. http://www.hse.gov.uk/
Keeping cool at work – switch on any fans or air conditioners to keep workplaces comfortable and use blinds or curtains to block out sunlight. Staff working outside should wear appropriate clothes and use sunscreen to protect from sunburn.
Stay hydrated – employers must provide staff with suitable drinking water in the workplace. Workers should drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration and not wait until they are thirsty.
Dress code – employers are not under any obligation to relax their uniform or dress code requirements during hot weather but where possible it may be advisable to for employers to relax the rules for wearing ties or suits.
Getting into work – if public transport is adversely affected by the hot weather, this could affect staff attendance and their ability to get into work on time. Staff should check timetables in advance and speak to their employer once they are aware of any travel problems to discuss alternative arrangements, such as working from home or a different start time.
Vulnerable workers – some workers may be more adversely affected by the hot weather such as the elderly, pregnant women or those on medication. Employers may wish to provide more frequent rest breaks and ensure ventilation is adequate by providing fans or portable air-cooling units.
*Picture credit: Wikimedia commons.