With England expecting its first ever red warning for extreme heat this week, raised temperatures in the workplace have the potential to become a health and safety issue as employers struggle to keep working areas within the recommended temperatures.
In line with this concern, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for a legally enforceable limit, suggesting a maximum temperature of 30C for regular indoor work and 27C for strenuous work. The TUC says employers should act to bring down temperatures if they exceed 24C, however.
Slingsby, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of industrial and commercial equipment, has some simple and practical tips on how employers can keep factory and warehouse staff safe and comfortable at work during the soaring temperatures of the current heatwave:
- Check air conditioning and ventilation units are working at their optimum level – there may not be time to install new systems, but some quick maintenance checks could make all the difference. If more localised air cooling is required, in the case where conditioning systems are not adequate or, air conditioning systems are not installed within industrial environments, then a combination of fans, mobile air coolers and evaporative air coolers can be adopted.
- Place plastic PVC strip curtains over open building entrances to help block out harmful UV rays and maintain temperatures.
- Solar-control window film can be installed quickly and will work to deflect the sun’s heat, especially on windows that you know receive a lot of direct sunlight. This method can help to reduce your reliance on air-conditioning and work to save on your energy bills.
- Keep machinery and electrical equipment switched off overnight and when not in use. Heavy machinery generates a lot of heat, and this will help to bring down the room temperature of your warehouse or factory floor. Placing signage near machinery to remind workers to ‘switch off when not in use’ could prove helpful too.
- Adding water coolers to communal areas can help staff members stay cool and hydrated.
- Encourage employees to take cover away from the direct sunlight during lunch and smoking breaks. Create additional temporary shaded areas outside with parasols if you have the space.
- Monitor room temperatures across the different areas of your workplace with thermometers.
- During heatwaves and throughout the summer, the pollen count may be high and so, it is worth considering investing in air purifiers for your working environment, to help ensure employees are comfortable, especially those with hay fever.