Extreme heat: What are my rights at work?

July 18, 2022

Information issued by the HSE states that employers must make sure indoor workplaces remain at a reasonable temperature and manage the risk of working outdoors in hot environments.

The workplace regulator has shared guidance in light of the extreme warm weather predicted for Great Britain at the start of this week.

A heatwave warning is in place until Tuesday (19 July) so the 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 the HSE advise that 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.

Temperatures in the indoor workplace are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

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.

 

This is valid as of 18th July 2022.

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