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Hot Under the Collar?

Some workplaces can get too hot during the summer months. There is no legal maximum, but employers have a legal duty to maintain a reasonable temperature in indoor workplaces.

What is a “reasonable temperature”?
It depends on the type of work but research indicates that the comfort zone is between 16-24°C. Working above this level carries increased risks of heat exhaustion. This can cause dizziness, nausea and fainting, and ultimately heatstroke.

Usdaw supports the TUC campaign for a legal maximum of 30oC (27oC for strenuous work) but employers should recognise that work above 24oC will be uncomfortable and start to cause heat stress for some workers.

What should your employer do?
Whether it’s a temporary fix or a more permanent solution, your employer should take steps to bring excessive temperatures under control. Even simple steps can go a long way.

Not only are there health risks, studies show that productivity takes a big hit when indoor temperatures are too high – and the higher the temperature, the greater the impact. So it’s in everyone’s interest to keep the heat from climbing too high.

How can Usdaw help?
If your employer recognises Usdaw you should raise your concerns with your Health and Safety Rep. Our reps have legal powers to investigate potential risks and work with management to improve the situation. Some of the measures our reps have been able to agree include:
 
  • Providing fans or portable air-conditioning units
  • Allowing workers to take more frequent breaks in cooler areas
  • Provision of cold drinks
  • Relaxation of dress codes.
Employers also have a duty of care to outdoor workers. When the weather is hot they should take steps to protect delivery drivers, trolley collectors and other members who work outside.

Independent research shows that unionised workplaces are twice as safe as non-unionised environments. If you want the best possible health and safety conditions in your workplace, join Usdaw today.

 

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers