The Met Office has confirmed that today (Wednesday) is the hottest day of the year and has declared a Level 3 Heat-health alert. Public Health England has warned people to try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm and have called on the public to look out for the elderly, young children and those with serious illnesses.
Workplace advisory group Acas have prepared a list of recommendations help employers manage workplace challenges due to the hot weather.
Acas Head of Guidance, Stewart Gee, said:
“Today’s sizzling weather may be ideal for Wimbledon but staff getting into work on the hottest day of the year may not feel the same way.
“Certain workers may be adversely affected by the extreme heat such as pregnant women, elderly employees and Muslim staff that are currently fasting during Ramadan.
“Our new advice published today offers some top tips for employers to help ensure their businesses remain productive during the heat wave whilst keeping staff happy too.”
Acas top tips for hot weather working include:
Workplace temperatures should be reasonable – the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) advice is that the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings must be reasonable. The HSE offers advice on how to carry out a thermal comfort risk assessment if staff are unhappy with the temperature.
Keeping cool at work – switch on any fans or air conditioners to keep workplaces comfortable and use blinds or curtains to block out sunlight. Staff working outside should wear appropriate clothes and use sunscreen to protect from sunburn.
Stay hydrated – employers must provide staff with suitable drinking water in the workplace. Workers should drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration and not wait until they are thirsty.
Dress code – employers are not under any obligation to relax their uniform or dress code requirements during hot weather but where possible it may be advisable to for employers to relax the rules for wearing ties or suits.
Getting into work – if public transport gets adversely affected by the hot weather, this could affect staff attendance and their ability to get into work on time. Staff should check timetables in advance.
Vulnerable workers – some workers may be more adversely affected by the hot weather such as the elderly, pregnant women or those on medication. Employer may wish to give them more frequenet rest breaks and ensure ventilation is adequate by providing fans or portable air colling units.
Fasting during hot weather – many Muslims are currently observing Ramadan and fasting during the daylight hours. This includes not eating food or drinking liquids. Employers may help by holding meetings in the morning when energy levels are higher or consider a temporary change in working hours.
Acas’ full hot weather guidance is available here.