HSE calls on employers to help workers in hot weather

James Williams

On 8 June 2023, as the UK Health Security Agency and Met Office issued the first yellow heat-health alert of the year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) called on employers to protect workers during periods of extreme hot weather.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require employers to ensure that temperatures in all workplaces inside buildings are reasonable.
While an Approved Code of Practice sets a limit on minimum workplace temperatures of 16 degrees (or 13 degrees if the work involves severe physical effort), there is no limit on the maximum temperature. Despite the absence of a legal limit, the HSE is calling on employers to take action to protect those working inside and outside in extreme heat. Heat is classed as a hazard and employers must, when assessing health and safety risks to their workers, include risks from extreme weather, such as heat waves.
The HSE promotes a number of simple and affordable measures that employers can take. These include altering working patterns so workers can work at cooler times of the day, relaxing dress codes, providing free access to drinking water and sharing information about the symptoms of heat stress and what to do if someone is affected. The HSE also advises placing workstations away from direct sunlight and heat sources, insulating hot pipes and machinery, and providing weather-appropriate personal protective equipment. Employers can also refer to the HSE’s guidance Temperature in the workplace for practical steps to support workers.
During 2022, 38 MPs signed an early day motion calling on the government to introduce legislation to enforce a maximum workplace temperature while unions also called for similar action. The government has given no indication that it intends to act.
Source: HSE: Working in hot weather: Employers asked to help workers (8 June 2023).

James Williams – Solicitor

James Williams

I am a qualified Employment Law and HR Solicitor. I specialise in acting for schools and advise on all aspects of employment law and HR including attending employee meetings, advising senior leaders, conducting redundancy consultations, drafting contracts of employment, advising on policies and procedures and negotiating settlement agreements.