Beware of Heat Stress
Many of us have been soaking up the sun this weekend in the UK. But, with temperatures set to soar to the high 30°Cs this week, it’s important to assess the risk of the high temperatures to your workforce.
Heat stress happens when the body’s means of controlling its internal temperature starts to fail. Factors that can have an impact include air temperature, work rate, humidity, and clothing worn while working – these can all lead to heat stress.
Higher Risk Workplaces
Some workplaces are more at risk than others. Examples of workplaces where heat stress may be more likely include:
- Glass and rubber manufacturing plants
- Compressed air tunnels
- Conventional and nuclear power plants
- Foundries and smelting operations
- Brick-firing and ceramics plants
- Boiler rooms
- Bakeries and catering kitchens
Employees who work outside and who are exposed to the sun should ensure they have adequate sun protection, such as hats and SPF. They should also seek shade where possible during the heat of the day. This will also help limit the risk of heat stress as well as sunburn.
Reducing the Risk of Heat Stress
There are ways you can minimise heat stress.
- Control the temperature – where possible use fans or air conditioning or use physical barriers that reduce exposure to heat.
- Regulate the exposure to hot environments – allow employees to work at cooler times of the day, providing periodic rest breaks and rest facilities in cooler conditions.
- Prevent dehydration – provide cool water in the workplace and encourage workers to drink it frequently in small amounts before, during, and after working.
- Provide personal protective equipment – offer clothing with breathable fabrics where possible.
- Training – provide training for your workers, especially new and young employees. Inform them about the risks of heat stress, what symptoms to look out for, safe working practices, and emergency procedures.
- Identify who is at risk – identify employees who are more vulnerable to heat stress either because of an illness or medical condition, e.g., those with heart conditions.
Offices and Similiar Environments
Despite being indoors, employees working in offices and similar environments can still be at risk. Although there is no law for maximum working temperatures, employers must ensure the temperature in the workplace is reasonable.
As an employer, you should comply with health and safety at work law by:
- Keeping the temperature at a comfortable level, also known as ‘thermal comfort’
- Provide clean and fresh air
Tips for Employers: Keeping Staff Cool and Comfortable
- Dress code – for many businesses, ‘dress to impress’ applies. Although being suited and booted most definitely does look professional, it’s important to bear in mind the comfort of your employees. If possible, relax your dress code policy for staff, allowing them to wear cooler clothing.
- Vulnerable staff – pregnant and older workers can be at higher risk of ill-health during higher temperatures. As an employer, you should identify those who are vulnerable and implement additional measures. For example, providing more rest breaks and ensuring there is sufficient ventilation.
- Cooling down – provide plenty of clean, cool drinking water. If the office or similar working environment does not have air conditioning, use fans and keep blinds down to block out the heat.
Health and Safety Training
Ultimately, ensuring the health and safety of your workers should be your top priority. The best way to do this is by providing training.
Contact Us to learn more about Health and Safety training at Candy Management Consultants.