HSE urges employers to prepare for more extreme heat

An image of the sun set against a blue sky (Image: Dreamstime)
Are contractors obliged to stop work during heatwaves? (Image: Dreamstime)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has urged employers to make sure workplaces are ready for warmer weather in the future.

The HSE said that after last month’s record-breaking temperatures and another heatwave in the past week, employers should ensure extreme heat becomes part of their long-term planning.

Employers have a legal obligation under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to assess risks to the health and safety of workers. They must review the risk controls they have in place and update them if needed. This includes risks from more frequent extreme weather such as heatwaves.

While there is no maximum temperature for workplaces, 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.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, which require employers to provide a reasonable temperature in the workplace.

‘Prompt to review practices’

John Rowe, HSE’s acting head of operational strategy, said: “We expect employers to take this recent weather event as the prompt to review how they assess the risk of high temperatures in their workplace and identify now those changes that will future proof them.

“All workplaces need to acknowledge that the working environment is changing. There are low-cost adaptations to the structure of work, but things like improved ventilation and air conditioning should also be considered which will involve investment in the workplace.

“Extreme heat that we have witnessed of late isn’t going to stop and we want employers to plan and respond to this now.”

More HSE guidance on taking practical steps to work safely in hot conditions is available here:

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