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Health and Safety Consultants / Human Resources  / When is it legally too hot to work?
21 Jun

When is it legally too hot to work?

It’s hot maybe too hot. As your probably aware it’s hot. Working in an office environment is like hell on earth especially when you’re a ginger nut like me. Some may be lucky enough to have air-conditioned office spaces but what about us who have nothing but a cracked window or jarred door. 

Wipe the sweat of your brow because things are going to get hotter. I’m sorry to have to break it to you but there’s no maximum working temperature here in the UK that’s because some workplaces operate at extreme temperatures, such as a foundries and glass factories.

The guidance from the Health and Safety Executive only states the minimum working temperatures. However, there is a glimmer of hope. The HSE says employers must take into account six basic factors when deciding whether to keep people working.

These are the factors your employer should take into account

Air temperature, radiant temperatures, air velocity, humidity, the clothing employees are expected to wear, and their expected work rate.

The temperature at work should be “reasonable” when factoring in the type of workplace. The law does say that if “a significant number of employees are complaining about thermal discomfort” then it’s the employer’s responsibility to carry out a risk assessment and act on its results.

Keeping cool in work

While your employer is not legally obliged to provide air conditioning in the workplace they are expected to provide reasonable temperatures.  If your lucky enough to have air conditioning turn it on, if you have blinds or curtains use them to block the sunlight. If your working outside then make sure your employees are hydrated, correct clothing and use sun cream to protect them from the sun.

It’s important all employees office based or on the road drink plenty of water. As an employer, you must provide suitable drinking water in the workplace.

Vulnerable workers

This hot weather can make employees fee tired and less energetic especially those who are young, older, pregnant or on medication. To make life easier employers may wish to give these employees frequent rest breaks, cooling down periods and ensure ventilation is adequate.

Dress code in the workplace during hot weather

As the sun is shining and the weather is sweet it is not a chance to wear your Hawaiian shirt and flip flops to work. Save that for Revs De Cuba on Saturday night.

Employers are under no obligation to relax their dress code or uniform requirements during the hot weather. Some employers may allow workers to wear more casual clothing but nothing too drastic.

Speak to your employer to see what arrangements can be made so you can work in the most comfortable state. There is no harm in asking. 

If you would like to discuss in depth about the working conditions during hot weather please don’t hesitate to give us a call.