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Government Urged To Introduce Maximum Temperature For Working Indoors As Heatwave Approaches

Poppy Bilderbeck

| Last updated 

Government Urged To Introduce Maximum Temperature For Working Indoors As Heatwave Approaches

Calls have been growing for the government to bring in more regulations surrounding working in hot weather.

With the UK on the brink of its first-ever level four heatwave, the country has been sent into a panic over its lack of preparation for such intense temperatures.

Reports have even come in of roads melting because of the heat, which is predicted to rise above 30°C in the coming days.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) - and 'voice of Britain at work' - has since called on the government to implement a 'plan on how to adapt and keep workers safe'.

As per the government's website, there is currently 'no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures, e.g. when it's too cold or too hot to work'.

"However, guidance suggests a minimum of 16°C or 13°C if employees are doing physical work," it continues.

There's 'no guidance for a maximum temperature limit', with it simply being noted the temperature should be kept 'at a comfortable level' and employees provided with 'clean and fresh air'.

For employees working indoors, it simply states the temperature 'during work hours' must be 'reasonable'.

If employees aren't happy with the heat, they are told to take the issue up with their employer.

On Monday 11 July, the TUC launched a petition titled: "We need a maximum working temperature."

The petition - addressed to Thérèse Coffey, the Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions - reads: "Every summer, temperatures are rising, and working in prolonged heat and sun can be dangerous. It can cause a number of health concerns, from dehydration and dizziness to the most serious of illnesses. The Health and Safety Executive says 4,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year as a result of outdoor working.

"Trade unions want to see the law changed, so that employers and workers know when action must be taken to keep workers cooler and safer."

In a release written by Shelly Asquith, health and safety policy officer at the TUC, the federation also specifically calls for employers to be 'obliged to provide sun protection and water' for employees.

"We would like ministers to introduce a new absolute maximum indoor temperature, set at 30°C (or 27°C for those doing strenuous jobs), to indicate when work should stop," it details.

When temperatures reach 'above 24°C' and workers are left feeling 'uncomfortable', the petition states there should be 'guidance which asks employers to begin taking steps to reduce temperatures'.

"This is the World Heath Organisation's recommended maximum temperature for working in comfort," it continues.

Despite the Health and Safety Executive having a 'thermal comfort checklist', the TUC questions why there is 'no law to guide bosses on what a maximum heat should be' when there is 'official guidance' for a '*minimum* working temperature of 16°C'.

The petition concludes: "It's time to protect working people feeling the heat!"

A HSE spokesperson told LADbible: "There is no maximum workplace temperature because every workplace is different. Responsibility to make workplaces safe and healthy lies with employers. Workplace temperature is a hazard that comes with legal obligations for employers like other hazards."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Weather, Politics, UK News

Poppy Bilderbeck
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