Working in hot weather
The UK’s historically wet and cool climate means that businesses here are not used to having to worry about hot weather and its impact on employees and workers. However, times are changing. Global temperatures are rising and the UK has seen record temperatures and prolonged hot spells both in 2022 and, most recently, in June 2023. What do employers need to know about working in hot weather? Here are some handy hints:
- There is no maximum temperature beyond which employees are not required to work in the UK. Regulation 7 of The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (the 1992 Regulations) states that the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be ‘reasonable’. There is no equivalent provision for outdoor workplaces.
- 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. This obligation applies to the risks posed by extreme heat. Employers should assess the risk posed in their workplace and look at what mitigation measures they can put in place.
- Examples of measures which could be taken to reduce health and safety risk include the provision of fans; moving working hours where possible to avoid employees needing to work in the heat of the day; making sure that water is accessible at all times and relaxing rules on uniform.
- Employers should take special care when considering the risk posed by heat to pregnant workers and any employees with disabilities. If hot weather prevents a disabled employee from carrying-out their role then the employer would need to look at what adjustments it could reasonably make to allow that employee to be able to work.