Calls for Brits to be sent home if workplaces exceed 25°C

18 July 2022, 11:02

Should there be a maximum temperature in the workplace?
Should there be a maximum temperature in the workplace? Picture: Getty
Alice Dear

By Alice Dear

The GMB Union is calling for a maximum temperature in workplaces which, if exceeded, means employees must be sent home.

Brits have been told to do 'as little as possible' as temperatures of 40°C are expected to bring a risk to life, however, for the majority of people who are still required to work, this is almost impossible.

This is why a union is calling for there to be a maximum temperature workplaces can be before staff are able to be sent home.

The GMB Union wants there to be a legal limit on how hot workplaces can be as there is currently no specific temperature which is considered 'too hot' to be able to work.

They're also calling for people to be able to wear cooler clothes during extremely hot days, and be given the opportunity to take more breaks.

People have been commuting into the office amid the heatwave, with temperatures set to rise to 40	°C
People have been commuting into the office amid the heatwave, with temperatures set to rise to 40 °C. Picture: Getty

The GMB Union's health and safety officer, Lynsey Mann, said: "This hot weather is great for being on a sun lounger, but if you're trying to work through it's no joke.

"Bosses need to do everything possible to keep workplaces cool and, more importantly, safe."

She added: "Workers who are overheating aren't going to be at their best."

Instead of noting a specific maximum temperature for workplaces, the official guidance simply states that employers are required to provide a comfortable working environment for their staff.

As outlined by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, businesses have an obligation to ensure that the temperature in the workplace is ‘reasonable’.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) gives advice on how employers should ensure workers are comfortable, including controlling the temperature through the use of air conditioning units or an air dehumidifier.

The GMB Union think there should be a maximum temperature workplaces are allowed to be before staff are sent home
The GMB Union think there should be a maximum temperature workplaces are allowed to be before staff are sent home. Picture: Getty

The Met Office have put a red weather warning in place over the next two days, and have warned people to stay out of the sun, stay hydrated and look out for people more vulnerable to heatstroke.

One of the Met Office's meteorologists, Steven Keates, told The Telegraph that people should avoid strenuous exercise and unnecessary travel.

In fact, he said that in general we should be doing "as little as possible" over the next two days.

Brits have also been warned that this is not weather to be sitting out in the sun with a drink and having fun with friends.

College of Paramedics chief executive Tracy Nicholls told Sky: "This isn’t like a lovely hot day where we can put a bit of sunscreen on, go out and enjoy a swim and a meal outside.

"This is serious heat that could actually, ultimately, end in people’s deaths because it is so ferocious."

She added: "We’re just not set up for that sort of heat in this country."

The Met Office have also issued advice to people on how to stay cool amid the heatwave:

  • Look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated. Older people, those with underlying conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk.
  • If you live alone, ask a relative or friend to phone to check that you are not having difficulties during periods of extreme heat.
  • Stay cool indoors: Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.
  • If going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.
  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest.
  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat.
  • Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day.
  • Make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling.
  • Check the latest weather forecast and temperature warnings – you can find these on TV, radio, mobile app or website.
  • During warm weather going for a swim can provide much welcomed relief. If you are going into open water to cool down, take care and follow local safety advice.

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