In the summertime... how to deal with hot weather in the workplace

French Duncan | 10 July 2018

With headlines stating “Scotland records it’s highest ever temperature”, how do you ensure you are providing safe and cool conditions for your employees to work during this unusually hot spell?

1. The Temperature
Contrary to popular belief, there is no maximum temperature set by the Health and Safety Executive that allows employees to be sent home from work when the thermometer starts rising.

However, this does not mean that as an employer you shouldn’t be mindful of the temperature in your workplace. The Health and Safety Regulations require ‘reasonable’ temperatures in a workplace. We can all agree that what is reasonable to one person, may not be reasonable to another and that is where you may wish to enlist the help of some expert guidance. We would recommend that you ensure air conditioning is in place where possible, and if not, that you have fans in place and windows opened where permitted by health and safety regulations. You may also wish to have a general conversation with staff and work with them on what the majority view of the term “reasonable”. It is widely thought that a “reasonable” temperature would sit between 16 and 30 degrees.

2. Dress Codes
Dress code will be dependent on the type of business you run. If employees are expected to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) due to the nature of their role, this doesn’t change if is a couple of degrees warmer outside. However, there may be solutions available to provide the same level of protection which is geared more towards this kind of weather – it would be best to speak with your PPE supplier on this.

If you have employees who are client facing or work within an office environment you could create a “Summer Dress Code” policy. This ensures that in the warmer weather, staff aren’t coming into the office ready to explode due to the temperature in their three piece suit or waltzing in like they are ready to go and spend the day in a beach bar with board shorts and a vest top! A “Summer Dress Code” gives the organisation an opportunity to relax the dress code and allow staff to feel more comfortable but still be dressed appropriately for their working environment.

3. Working Outdoors
During the warmer weather, if you have employees who work outside you must take into consideration Sun Protection. Fit for Work have stated that people who work outside including construction workers, farmers, postal workers and sports people are particularly vulnerable to skin cancer. Therefore, it is advised by Cancer Research UK that employers encourage employees to apply a high factor sunscreen (minimum factor 30), wear sunglasses, broad brimmed hats and particularly to encourage people to cover any freckles and moles. Although, by law, you are not required to provide the sunscreen etc., it may be a helpful employee engagement exercise to do so.

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