As many parts of North Yorkshire are under a Red Warning for extreme heat tomorrow (Monday 18 July) and Tuesday 19 July, UNISON and the TUC have issued advice to members about the impact of the heatwave on workers and what employers must do to keep you safe.
Sadly, there is no legal maximum temperature for workplaces in the UK (even the USA has a legal maximum). However, employers must keep the temperature at a safe and ‘reasonable’ level. The TUC has suggested that over 30 degrees would be unreasonable and employers should keep workplace temperatures below 30.
- If you can, work from home. Your employer should allow you to, if you can.
- Wherever possible do not undertake outdoor work when the heat is most dangerous, between 1100 and 1500.
- Sun lotion is PPE, and employers must provide it to workers who are exposed to the sun.
- Outdoor workers will need to take extra breaks and have access to sufficient drinking water. Outdoor workers should not be penalised or lose pay for taking more breaks during hot weather.
- Dress codes and uniform standards should be relaxed. PPE should be adjusted to be lightweight and appropriate to all risks; including the risk from overheating.
- Lone workers need extra protection from heat exhaustion.
- Pregnant women are at greater risk from heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Pregnancy risk assessment must be reviewed to consider the impact of the heatwave. If the heat risk cannot be mitigated, pregnant women should be allowed to work from home or be off work on full pay.
- Vehicles without air-conditioning should not be used for long journeys.
- Indoor workplaces should not exceed 30 degrees, we believe above 30 is too hot to be safe. At 24 degrees, employers should already be taking steps to reduce the temperature.
Ultimately if your employer is not taking steps to keep you safe, you could refuse to attend an unsafe workplace by using your rights under section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, but speak to us first before refusing to attend work.