Extreme heat: What are my rights at work?

Employers must make sure indoor workplaces remain at a reasonable temperature and manage the risk of working outdoors in hot environments, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The workplace regulator is sharing guidance ahead of the extreme warm weather predicted for Great Britain at the start of next week.

A heatwave warning is in place until Tuesday (19 July) so HSE is reminding employers of their legal duty to ensure employees can work in reasonable temperatures in indoor workplaces. What is reasonable varies, and will depend upon the nature of the individual workplace.

There is no maximum temperature for workplaces, but all workers are entitled to an environment where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Heat is classed as a hazard and comes with legal obligations like any other hazard.

Workers should also take care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their actions at work.

John Rowe, HSE’s Acting Head of Operational Strategy, said: “With a heatwave warning in place, its vital employers are aware of their responsibility to ensure their indoor workplaces are at a reasonable temperature.

“All workers have a right to a safe working environment and their employers should discuss working arrangements with them.

“If workers have specific queries or concerns relating to health and safety in their workplace, they should talk to their employer.”

There’s no maximum temperature because workplaces with hot processes such as bakeries or foundries would not be able to comply with such a regulation. They use other measures to control the effects of temperature. These other measures should also be used to manage the risk of working outdoors in a hot environment.

15th July 2022

What we think

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 governs workplace temperatures, although maximum temperatures do not apply to UK workplaces.

In addition, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to make a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees and take action where necessary and where reasonably practicable.

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 places a duty on Employers to prepare a Risk Assessment and record in writing the significant findings of the risk assessment, where the Company employs five or more people. A risk assessment will not only identify the hazards that exist but it will also highlight any necessary control measures that need to be put in place. These controls are likely to list equipment that can be used to reduce the temperature of indoor work environments. Controls for working in an outdoor environment is not as easy to manage but measures such as flexible working hours, appropriate clothing, high factor sun protection and a plentiful supply of drinking water could be put in place to mitigate the risk of harm as a result of exposure to the sun and heat from extreme weather conditions. A good risk assessment will include much more and it must be shared with the employees completing the work.

How we can help

Wiser Safety can develop a Safe System of Work in connection with working in hot weather and/or we can create suitable and sufficient Risk Assessment to suit your requirements. We are also able to provide a Toolbox Talk that can be delivered to your workforce either in person, via video conferences or they can be delivered electronically.

Contact us now to discuss a workable solution. Please feel free to Call Us on 01732 446503 or Message Us