Employer responsibilities in hot weather

While most people love the sunshine, having to work in hot conditions is another matter. So what are your employer responsibilities in hot weather? It’s your responsibility to ensure working conditions are safe and suitable for employees. If the working environment is too hot, productivity will decrease and employee’s health may be put in danger.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend the following in hot conditions:

  • placing insulating materials around hot plant and pipes;
  • providing air-cooling or air conditioning plant;
  • providing fans, e.g. desk, pedestal or ceiling-mounted fans;
  • ensuring that windows can be opened;
  • shading employees from direct sunlight with blinds or by using reflective film on windows to reduce the heating effects of the sun;
  • siting workstations away from direct sunlight or other situations or objects that that radiate heat (e.g. plant, machinery);
  • providing additional facilities, e.g. cold water dispensers (water is preferable to caffeine or carbonated drinks). Introducing formal systems of work to limit exposure, e.g. flexible working patterns, job rotation, workstation rotation etc.;
  • allowing sufficient breaks to enable employees to get cold drinks or cool down;
  • relaxing formal dress code – but you must ensure that personal protective equipment is provided and used if required.

If your employees work outside in hot weather, HSE has a useful guide for working in the sun: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg147.pdf

You should assess your workplace and look to implement as many of the above suggestions as possible. Remember, optimal working conditions provide optimal productivity!