Employer responsibilities in hot weather
As the weather is predicted to stay high this week; what are your responsibilities as an employer in hot weather?
The rules regarding temperatures in the workplace come under the Health and Safety Executive (‘HSE’). Although an approved code of practice provides guidance on a lower temperature of between 13 -16 degrees Celsius, it does not set a higher temperature.
The reason for this is that some work environments for example a glass works can work safely in reasonably high temperatures; however this would not be suitable for all employers and employees.
The key for employers is to provide a work environment with a reasonable temperature. Employers should also undertake a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees, and take action where necessary and where reasonably practicable.
The HSE advises that:
‘The temperature of the workplace is one of the potential hazards that employers should address to meet their legal obligations. Employers should consult with employees or their representatives to establish sensible means to cope with high temperatures’
Ryan Bickham, head of the Employment Law department provides some sensible tips: ‘The key is to assess and monitor the working environment and employees, if employees are working outside ensure they are provided with sufficient water and sun cream and consider providing additional rest periods in a cool environment. If employees are working in an office then consider the overall temperature and if it is too high whether steps can be taken to lower the temperature such as creating a flow of cool air or leasing an air conditioning unit’