Unions call for maximum UK workplace temperatures as heat wave descends labor union

Unions are calling on people to get legal protection against high temperatures in UK workplaces, as a heatwave approaches which could see temperatures close to 40C on Monday and Tuesday.

The GMB union said the government should set a maximum temperature for workplaces of 25C, meaning employers should offer flexible working and travel arrangements, give workers extra breaks and relax dress codes to allow workers to wear cooler clothes.

Lynsey Mann, the union’s health and safety officer, said: “This hot weather is great for lounging on a sun lounger, but it’s no joke if you’re trying to work.

“Bosses must do everything possible to keep workplaces cool and, more importantly, safe. This can be as simple as letting people dress more casually and providing proper hydration.

“High levels of UV exposure mean outdoor workers are at greater risk of developing skin cancer. Simply allowing more breaks and providing sun cream and protective clothing, such as hats with neck covers, can help reduce this risk.

“Ultimately, there needs to be a legal maximum working temperature the same way we have a legal minimum working temperature, and that’s in the interests of employers — workers who are overheating aren’t going to be at their best.”

Meteorologists have given an 80% chance that the heatwave will break the UK record for highest temperature in 2018 of 38.7C.

There is a 50% chance of breaking 40C in an area of ​​the UK with a red weather warning issued for heat.

While there are regulations regarding minimum temperature levels in the UK workplace, there are no laws setting maximum levels.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has previously said employers have a duty to ensure working conditions are “reasonable”, but there is no specific temperature limit.

The Cabinet Office minister, Keith Malthouse, said Monday and Tuesday could lead to “a working-from-home moment” due to travel disruption, while the UK Health Security Agency warned of health risks from rising heat.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said people should stay hydrated, but added they should be “resilient” and “enjoy the sun”.

Some local authorities have warned of disruptions to services and several schools in areas covered by red alerts – central, north, east and south-east England – have told parents they will be closed.

The general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Frances O’Grady, repeated the call she made in 2018 for a maximum of 35C to be set.

He said: “We all love it when the sun comes out, but working in a stuffy baking shop or office can be unbearable and dangerous. Indoor workplaces should be kept cool, with comfortable dress codes and flexible working to take advantage of the cooler times of the day.

“Employers must ensure that outdoor workers are protected with regular breaks, plenty of fluids, plenty of sunscreen and proper protective clothing.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.