As temperatures continue to rise and hot weather records are broken year after year, the summer months are an increasingly uncomfortable time of year to be working.
July 2019 saw temperatures in Cambridge reach 38.7°C – the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK. Toppling the previous record of 38.5°C which had been in place since 2003.
In the UK, no laws set a ‘maximum working temperature’ which makes finding ways to keep cool highly important.
Hot Weather Working Tips
When working in the heat, remember to consider the following 7 tips to keep you and your fellow workers safe.
1. Keep hydrated
Drinking plenty of water might sound obvious but it can easily be forgotten when you’re on the job.
It’s recommended to stick to drinking water over the likes of coffee, tea and other caffeinated soft drinks which can end up dehydrating you further. Carrying a bottle around with you is a great idea, especially if you’re due to be travelling around from one job to another.
2. Protect your skin
For anyone working outside, protecting yourself from the sun is vital. Cover yourself up as much as possible and don’t forget the sunscreen.
3. Wear sunglasses
It’s just as important to protect your eyes as well as your skin so a high-quality pair of sunglasses are essential.
4. Keep out of direct sunlight
During the middle of the day when the sun’s at its peak is the worst time to be in direct sunlight. If possible, plan shifts to work outside of peak temperatures.
In cases where you find yourself working in the middle of the day, aim to avoid direct sunlight, especially if you’re working outside. This might be tough but finding ways to block out the sun will help to prevent heat exhaustion.
5. Take frequent breaks in the shade
To avoid burning out take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors and use them as a chance to drink some water.
6. Work shorter days
This one might be dependent on your employer but in soaring temperatures, especially if you’re working outside, it’s sensible to work fewer hours until the temperature drops to a more comfortable level again.
7. Know the signs of heat-related illness
Being able to recognise the signs of a heat-related illness (such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke) means that you’ll know when you could do with a break and even come to the aid of a colleague.
- Symptoms of heat exhaustion: pale skin, headache, cramping, nausea, weakness, feeling tired and clammy skin.
- Symptoms of heatstroke: confusion, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, headaches, seizures, nausea, vomiting and a failure to respond.
When is it too hot to work?
Under UK law, there aren’t currently any laws outlining a maximum working temperature, although Labour want to introduce the following:
- 27°C for manual work
- 30°C for indoor office work
Should this ever go ahead, employers would have to ensure that temperatures never exceed these temperatures by providing sufficient cooling.
While there might not be any current laws about maximum working temperatures, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), recommends a maximum safe working temperature of 27°C for manual workers and 30°C for office workers, the same as Labour’s proposal.
Working Alone During Hot Weather
If you’re working alone on days when the temperature is high then it’s a good idea to take precautions in the event of you becoming ill due to heat exhaustion.
In extreme cases where a person faints or falls unconscious, the emergency services should be contacted. Those working in the heat alone are at risk because there might not be anyone around to contact the emergency services.
Fortunately, there are now devices and apps available will send a ‘man-down’ alert to the emergency services along with location for help to be sent out.
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