The hot weather within the UK has led to a lot of coverage in the news with the Met Office releasing the first ever red weather warning for the extreme heat many are currently experiencing.
Whilst it may seem trivial to some, creating an environment that is comfortable to work in is very important when it comes to delivering a safe working environment and fulfilling your needs as an employer.
The health and safety risks of construction sites and more manual work during the heat are obvious, controlling dangers like heat stroke, dehydration and exhaustion are critical, but there are also health and safety issues when it comes to desk work.
Here we take a look at what you need to consider when managing the heat in an office.
1. Can you give workers the opportunity to work where they are comfortable?
HSE Network runs a hybrid model with 1 day working from home on Wednesdays but our industry means we can be flexible when it comes to where workers get the job done. Some of the staff have been working in the office whilst others are working from sheltered garden areas and cooler rooms in their homes. Keeping your home aerated and blinds/curtains shut will help to keep the area as cool as possible.
2. Are you providing clean drinking water?
Providing workers with drinking water when they are working from the office is very important as hydration is critical during times of increased heat. Keeping hydrated can help stave off the effects of heat exhaustion, here are some of the signs of heat exhaustion that you should be aware of when overseeing worker safety:
- a headache.
- dizziness and confusion.
- loss of appetite and feeling sick.
- excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin.
- cramps in the arms, legs and stomach.
- fast breathing or pulse.
- a high temperature of 38C or above.
- being very thirsty.
3. Can you manage the heat within the office?
There are no legal requirements for the office or workplace to be a certain temperature, but giving employees the flexibility to work from home if it will provide them with a cooler or more comfortable environment is well worth considering to try and manage safety risks. From a productivity perspective creating a comfortable working environment also helps with output.