Beat the heat: How to work safely as temperatures start to rise
It’s no secret that although the Brits can’t wait for a break from the grey and drizzle, as soon as temperatures start to climb we just can’t handle the heat. As the summer starts to set in, those that do not have the luxury of air con in their working environment need to take extra precautions to stay safe whilst working.
As people return to the office, employers also need to ensure that they are adequately equipped to provide a safe place for people to work in the heat. Providing coolers or fans, putting some budget towards refreshments, allowing extra breaks, and relaxing the dress code are just some of the ways that employers can protect their staff in these conditions.
Consider implementing these practises as soon as the weather brightens to ensure that vulnerable workers (those on medication, pregnant people, older workers etc.) are considered, and keep in mind the dates of Ramadan and consider the comfort of individuals who are fasting.
Here are just a few tips to help ease the discomfort of our short, but intense, British summer:
The most obvious and most important thing is to stay hydrated. Your body loses more fluids in the summer months, so it’s crucial to drink more than you usually would- but how much more? The exact amount varies from person-to-person, and the bigger you are the more fluid you need.
The average daily liquid consumption for an adult human is between 2-4 litres a day- so make sure you keep sipping throughout the day to stay topped up. As you get older you notice thirst less, so ensure you keep an eye on your hydration levels even if you don’t feel thirsty!
Natural and breathable fibres are your best friend- as are clothes with breathing room. One positive side-effect of the pandemic is that stoic professionalism is somewhat out of fashion, so make the most out of your wardrobe and opt for something less stuffy.
If this isn’t the case and you’re in a leading position, you should relax your dress code in order for your employees to work comfortably and safely.
Take regular breaks
Your body is already working overtime to cool you down, so don’t over-exert yourself. Take regular breaks to ensure you are comfortable and your work, productivity, and attention isn’t being affected.
Check the Met
Lunchtime breaks come with a caveat when temperatures soar. It may be tempting to soak up some rays, but if you are planning to take a break make sure you look up your local UV index first. High UV levels are dangerous for your skin, this coupled with the creeping degrees celsius is a recipe for heatstroke and other heat/sun-related illnesses.
Don’t suffer in silence
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that places of work must be a reasonable temperature during working hours. Although there isn’t a specific max temperature, ‘the temperature inside the workplace should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing’.
If your workplace is uncomfortably hot it is part of your employer’s duty of care to ensure that this is addressed. If you are struggling to work in these conditions it’s time to mention to your manager that safety measures are put in place.