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How hot is too hot for UK workers?

View profile for Amy Scholtka
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“Unions say action needed to protect UK workers in heatwave’’ 

The Trade Union Congress is pushing for a legal maximum temperature in the workplace, with a high of 30 degrees for indoor work environments and 27 degrees for more physical work. Employers may also be forced to introduce cooling measures when the temperature reaches 24 degrees. 
Jerry Swain, Unite’s national officer for construction, said people in the building industry were at particular risk from unscrupulous employers.

There are concerns on two levels; one is those people out in the sun all day and secondly those who work inside in confined areas where heat can build up if there is a lack of circulation of cool air. 

“We’ve had reports where nothing is being done and people are just expected to carry on working. Heat can make you lightheaded or dizzy and on a construction site, where you’ve got machinery, that’s a real risk.”

Many workplaces do not have air conditioning or suitable measures in place to avoid such heat. Due to the UK very rarely reaching these kinds of temperatures, employers are unprepared for this weather.

High temperatures can lead to a decrease in work performance due to uncomfortable temperatures and potentially ill health, for example, dizziness & fainting, which can be a real hazard in the workplace. This hot summer has proven that procedures may need to change in the workplace for a more comfortable future. 

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