Recently the weather in the UK reached scorching levels at over 30 degrees Celsius. The Met Office even issued a level 3 warning with many wondering whether they’d go up just one level to a state of emergency.
Every business is different and therefore it would be impossible to dictate advice on managing workplace risks in hot weather but there are some basic things all businesses can do that can make a huge difference to the wellbeing of your employees.
Drinking Water Units
One of the first things you should consider doing is to install drinking water stations at multiple points. Having one drinking water station to 100+ employees is not justifiable. Remember when buying these not to necessarily see them as costs but an investment.
Drinking water stations are not expensive with some units costing just £20 per month. Providing your workers with easy access to water helps keep them hydrated and reduces the risks of workers fainting from heat induced exhaustion. Remember as well that the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 Act requires employers to provide workers with drinking water. It’s not just a moral obligation but also a legal one.
Changes to Clothing
Keep an eye out for employees wearing different clothes during the hotter weather, especially in a factory that uses heavy machinery. The required uniform may be safety and risk checked but some employees may wear different clothes due to the weather such as loose fitting t-shirts. If the required uniform is too thick or hot consider investing in alternative uniforms for hot weather.
Increase in Breaks
Depending on how sheltered or well ventilated your premises are you should seriously consider allowing your workers to take more breaks. This can be negotiated with your workers where they can have an extra three 10 minute breaks in the day if they stay an extra half an hour to work. Make sure that workers are not forced to take these breaks outside in the exposed sunshine. Temporary canopies and shelters are not costly and will help make sure your employees come back from breaks refreshed.
Change in Shifts
Some businesses change shift times during the summer weather. If in an open factory setting you could consider opening at 2pm and closing at 10pm to avoid the blistering heat that comes through during 11am and 1pm. Avoiding the three hottest hours of the day could reduce heat-related illnesses and increase worker output.
Remember to always consult with your workers when considering making changes. The people on the shop floor will be best informed in knowing what issues are being faced due to the extreme hot weather more so than HR or backroom staff.