Employers advised to care for workers during heatwave
As temperatures in the UK have recently soared above 30 degrees, employers have been warned to make sure they follow the guidance when it comes to caring for employees.
Tim Forer, a specialist in employment law from Blake Morgan, has issued a reminder to employers in the UK to take action to prevent heat stress in their workforce. Heat stress often occurs at high temperatures, when employees are active and working in a humid environment combined with wearing unsuitable clothing. Symptoms of heat stress include: fainting, heat rash, muscle cramps, heat stroke, exhaustion and loss of concentration.
According to Forer, many employers may not be aware of their responsibilities during the hot weather, which include keeping staff at reasonable temperatures. He adds that this may be due to the lack of extreme temperatures in the UK, but not controlling the temperature in the workplace could leave them prone to breaching criminal law. According to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, employers must provide a “reasonable” temperature in the work environment. Forer's advice to employers is to conduct a risk assessment to highlight potential heat risks faced by the workforce.
The risks posed by heat have to be controlled and dealt with by employers, and may include: provision of fans to cool the air, altering work procedures, improvements to clothing and equipment and longer breaks from work. PPE (personal protective equipment) however, will still have to be worn to avoid breach of the Health and Safety regulations.