Health and safety in the workplace as the world warms up

health and safety in the workplace
Image source: Kaya

In the height of summer, unforeseen issues can crop up in the workplace. From feeling hot and bothered in the office to more severe issues like dehydration or heat exhaustion, it’s important to make sure that your employees have all the facilities they need to work comfortably during the summer. It’s just as important for workers to take the initiative to look after themselves too. Here are a few pointers on health and safety in the workplace throughout the warmer months. 

UK heatwaves on the rise

Last year, the UK experienced its joint hottest summer on record, as temperatures reached 40.3°C – and the extreme heat isn’t expected to ease up any time soon, with global warming remaining a very big concern across the globe. Our working environments need to be adaptable to this level of heat, which might mean investing in more concrete measures.

What can workers do?

Employees should adopt basic health and safety measures when the weather is hot. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day is key, as well as wearing sunscreen or a sun hat if you go outside.

Dressing appropriately for the heat while staying within the dress code will also make your day more comfortable. Layers that can be easily removed are a great shout and particularly if you have air conditioning in the office. Keeping the blinds closed where appropriate can also keep the heat out. If you can, move away from hotter areas of the office and move closer to cooler spots.

What can employers do?

Thermal comfort is an important thing for employers to address in the workplace. According to guidance by the Government, factors like radiant temperature, humidity and the type of clothing or PPE worn in the workplace should be considered alongside air temperature. It is essential that employers do what they can to avoid heat exhaustion, fainting or heat stress, which can happen when the body’s ability to control internal temperature is compromised.

Installing air conditioning units, if you don’t have them in place already, can be key to making sure your employees can do their day-to-day work comfortably and within the required dress code. You can also circulate information across the workforce that promotes health and safety measures in extreme heat. This may touch upon staying hydrated and wearing sun protection. Anything you can do to promote these habits will be helpful, such as installing cold water dispensers in convenient spots around the office. Inspiration may be drawn from other countries who experience extreme heat during their working day.

If your workers spend much of their working day outside, it is especially important that you support them on the above to ensure they can continue working safely.

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