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With temperatures set to soar to a balmy 23 oC this weekend have you thought about what measures you might need in place to cope with warmer working conditions?

Working in high temperatures can lead to loss of concentration, fatigue and mistakes, which can cause accidents. In prolonged heat stress conditions, the body’s normal mechanisms of heat control - perspiration and increased blood flow - become insufficient and the core temperature rises. The heart rate increases and the worker may experience dizziness and is at risk of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

How you manage the temperature of your workplace depends on whether it is indoors or outdoors and the normal operating temperature of that environment. You may also require very specific advice for your workplace for example on heat stress, dehydration and cold stress.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require that a ‘reasonable temperature’ should be maintained inside buildings used as workplaces. The Approved Code of Practice goes on to provide that, where reasonable comfort cannot be achieved, eg because of hot processes, ‘all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable’. In addition to the Workplace Regulations, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to make a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees, and take action where necessary and where reasonably practicable.

For indoor workplaces recommended provisions are:

  • a reasonable working temperature in workrooms usually at least 16°C, or 13°C for strenuous work (unless other laws require lower temperatures);

  • local heating or cooling where a comfortable temperature cannot be maintained throughout each work room (eg hot and cold processes);

  • thermal clothing and rest facilities where necessary, eg for ‘hot work’ or cold stores;

  • heating systems which do not give off dangerous or offensive levels of fume into the workplace

  • sufficient space in work rooms

The effects weather on outdoor working can potentially have a very serious impact on an employee's welfare if the risks have never been previously considered or managed properly. This impact may be immediate or it may occur over a long time period. For example, exposure to the sun can cause skin damage including sunburn, blistering and skin ageing and in the long term can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer.

People can avoid unnecessary exposure by such means as:

  • Wearing long sleeve shirts or loose clothing with a close weave

  • Wearing hats with a wide brim

  • More frequent rest breaks

  • Taking breaks in the shade whenever possible

  • Scheduling work to cooler times of the day; and

  • If possible, provide shade where work tasks are being undertaken

So lets make sure we are all able to enjoy the warm weather safely… a suntan is not a sign of good health!

If you need any further help or advice considering the risks and what measures you may need in place, contact us here.

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