As the UK enjoys high temperatures, the Met Office has issued an amber warning over extreme heat, which is to be in place until Tuesday. They predict that temperatures will rise further this weekend peaking on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
Not only will the heat prove to be uncomfortable for many, but as is usually the case with high temperatures, we should also expect to see a high pollen count, adding further discomfort to hay fever sufferers.
Consequently, employers should prepare to act by helping employees to feel comfortable in their work environment. Extreme weather can have a negative impact on employees when at work, such as productivity levels and even sickness absence.
Consideration should also be given to those who may be vulnerable, such as pregnant employees, or those with an underlying medical condition.
Employers have a legal obligation to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their employees and workers and it will be important for employers to act now in considering what measures may be needed to help employees in managing their health and wellbeing during this heat wave.
How can employers help?
Well, it will depend on the nature of the business and the type of job role the employee undertakes, and any special considerations such as pregnancy and underlying health conditions. Therefore, there may be several measures that could be deployed to help. Measures could include:
- Allowing employees to change their working hours to cooler times of the day.
- Provide more frequent rest breaks.
- Allowing any last-minute annual leave requests.
- Ensure there is a sufficient supply of water.
- Manage air conditioning appropriately.
- Make the best use of fans and open windows and doors.
These are just a few examples, and it will depend on the working environment, the job role, and any health needs. Carrying out a heat stress risk assessment will be important as a way to help the business to understand what steps need to take place.
In addition, for pregnant employees, revisit their pregnancy risk assessment and identify personal measures that they specifically require, that may be in addition to measures that a non-pregnant employee may have. It is also important to consider how to manage the risk from the heat with someone who has an underlying medical condition.
Unfortunately, high temperatures can lead to sunstroke and general unwellness and so employers may see an increase in sickness absence as a result. The usual sickness absence procedures should be adhered to so that people are treated consistently across the business.
Employers may also see a drop in performance levels because of the heat. Regularly reviewing the working environment and measures in place will help to mitigate productivity issues and take action if anybody raises any particular concerns.