HSE issues extreme heat guidance

The river Thames with the houses of Parliament in silhouette in the background at sunset on a hot day (Image: Dreamstime)
The HSE has issued guidance on extreme heat for employers, as temperatures in London threatened to reach 41C today (18 July). Image: Dreamstime

Employers need to ensure indoor workplaces remain at a “reasonable” temperature, although there is no maximum temperature for workplaces in Great Britain.

That’s according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which has issued guidance amid the heatwave predicted for this week.

A heatwave warning is in place until Tuesday (19 July) and the HSE said it wanted to remind employers of their legal duty to make sure employees can work in reasonable temperatures in indoor workplaces. But what is defined as reasonable varies according to the nature of the individual workplace.

Laws covering extreme heat

There is no maximum temperature for workplaces. But 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.  

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.  

HSE guidance

For more HSE guidance on practical steps you can take to work safely in hot conditions see the links below: 

John Rowe, HSE’s acting head of operational strategy, said: “With a heatwave warning in place, it’s 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.” 

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