Workers need extra protection from the hot weather: Usdaw

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Retail trade union Usdaw is calling for a legal maximum workplace temperature to protect workers’ health and safety amid Met Office warning of record temperatures this week.

Usdaw is joining with other unions to call for a legal maximum working temperature to protect workers health and safety by supporting the TUC petition. Extreme temperatures, both very hot and very cold, are a familiar problem for many workers. While there is a legally enforceable minimum workplace temperature, there is not a corresponding maximum enforceable temperature.

“As temperatures are set to significantly rise and the Met Office has issued a red warning for extreme heat, we want workers to know that employers are expected to take reasonable steps to deal with uncomfortably high temperatures,” Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary said.

“Outdoor workers need sun and heat protection, some sort of shade if possible, suitable clothing, sunscreen of factor 30 or above, water to prevent dehydration and frequent breaks. Indoor workers need cool drinks, more frequent breaks, relaxed dress code, along with opportunities to remove and replace face coverings.

“Usdaw, along with other unions and the TUC, want to see a legal maximum working temperature introduced of 30°C – or 27°C for those doing strenuous work – with employers obliged to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24°C. 

“Experts say the comfort zone is normally in the region of 16°C to 24°C. As the temperature rises above this zone, heat exhaustion starts. People start to suffer loss of concentration, there are increases in accidents and loss of productivity. Symptoms include irritability, dizziness, headaches, nausea and fainting. 

“For better health and safety in your workplace, make sure you’re in a union and talk to your rep. Usdaw produces a helpful advice leaflet on this issue – Keep Your Cool Tackling Heat Stress at Work.”