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Heat warning UK: Sizzling temperatures make it too hot to work 

The sun is out in full force this week, and the heat warning could make some UK offices too hot to legally work in. Will employers let their staff leave if temperatures become unbearable?

A heatwave is sweeping across the UK.

While the sun provides many a opportunity to laze around in the park, temperatures indoors verge on dangerous.

In fact, for people that work in office environments, their safety could be at real risk.

While the law does not provide exact maximum and minimum temperatures, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) offers a minimum of 16°C for non physical work.

Where strenuous activity is required, it recommends 13°C.

However, it doesn’t give any guidelines for temperatures that are too high.

heat wave - Compelo
Shutterstock/By beeboys

UK Heat warning: When is it too hot to work?

Rather, it references Regulation 7 from the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992:

‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’

Yet, the regulations do not point out a particular standard of what “reasonable” means.

The HSE does attempt to provide some sort of clarification via common sense, however.

It urges employers to check in with employees as to their thermal comfort.

Furthermore, management figures should also think of ways to cope with uncomfortably high temperatures.

Therefore, this kind of situation with no clear legal parameters is an opportunity for leaders to act responsibly, and with compassion.

heat warning - Compelo

According to the HSE:

“In addition to the Workplace Regulations, 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 temperature of the workplace is one of the potential hazards that employers should address to meet their legal obligations. Employers should consult with employees or their representatives to establish sensible means to cope with high temperatures.”

Additionally, it also points out that managers have to do a risk assessment if enough staff complain about the heat. They must then take appropriate action based on the results.

However, anyone can prepare against the dangerous effects of a heatwave to stave off dehydration and exhaustion.

heat wave - Compelo

Drinking lots of water is a well-known preventative measure to heat-related illness.

Check with your doctor or medical professional for additional recommendations for staying cool.

Although there is no hard data to support increased iced lolly consumption, they are delicious and cold.

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