What To Do When It’s Too Hot to Work

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Employers are required to provide a reasonable working temperature in offices and other indoor work areas under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. However the application of the regulation depends on the nature of the workplace such as an office, warehouse, kitchen, etc. The approved Code of Practice states: ‘The temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. Where such a temperature is impractical because of hot or cold processes, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable. ‘Workroom’ means a room where people normally work for more than short periods. If the temperature is uncomfortably high, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature by siting work stations away from windows, increased ventilation, providing fans or air conditioning, shading windows, etc. Dehydration can seriously affect an employee’s ability to function safely and productively so encourage employees to frequently drink cool water. An employee’s effectiveness working outdoors can be greatly affected by extremely hot temperatures so consider the following:
  • Reschedule work to cooler times of the day
  • Provide more frequent rest breaks and introduce shading to rest areas
  • Provide free access to cool drinking water
  • Introduce shading in areas where individuals are working
  • Encourage the removal of personal protective equipment when resting to help encourage heat loss
  • Educate workers about recognising the early symptoms of heat stress
  • Suggest workers use a high factor sunscreen on any exposed skin and wear a wide brimmed hat that covers the back of the neck
Relaxing your dress code can also make staff feel more comfortable and consequently make them more productive. An announcement should be made of what is acceptable and also what the requirements will be when meeting customers/clients. Relaxation of the dress code should be applied in a fair and non-discriminatory way and any dress requirements need to be justifiable.

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