Increased temperatures can put the health and safety of employees at risk if not properly managed
Thompsons Solicitors is calling on employers to ensure that summer temperatures don’t pose a threat to the health and safety of employees in the workplace.
In recent weeks, temperatures in the UK have soared well above average, resulting in uncomfortable working conditions for some employees.
Excessive exposure to heat can lead to nausea, dizziness, muscle weakness and heatstroke. Heat exhaustion can also lead to fainting, which in turn can cause a person to suffer a serious injury from a fall.
Although Workplace Regulation states that office temperatures should not fall below 16°C, or 13°C if work involves a considerable amount of physical activity, there are no specific regulations for employers to follow on maximum temperatures.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) is now calling on the government to introduce legislation stating a maximum temperature, so that workers can go home if workplace temperatures reach 30°C, or 27°C if doing manual labour.
The organisation has also advised employers to relax dress codes and provide fans in high temperatures to ensure employees remain cool.
Charlotte Mackulin, workplace accident solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Our typically British weather doesn’t normally see temperatures soar above 30 degrees, but recent heatwaves have caused some workplaces to become unbearably hot for employees.
“As the high temperatures aren’t a regular occurrence, some employers may not be aware of the health and safety risks posed to people should the workplace get too hot.
“The TUC’s suggestions of temporary solutions, such as less formal attire, are common sense approaches, but lack of legislation surrounding maximum temperatures in the workplace could see unscrupulous bosses ignoring this advice and putting staff at risk.
“Until new safety laws are implemented by the government there’s no guarantee that employees will be protected when they most need it.”
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