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What Steps Should You Take To Keep Your Employees Cool?

English weather is joked about all around the world and perhaps deservedly so. However, we do experience the occasional heatwave, and with climate change, just like sea-levels, their frequency is on the rise. So, what do small business owners need to think about to keep your employees cool?

5 Things To Think About To Keep Your Employees Cool

Advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states “during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.” The burning question here is what is reasonable? In this case, that depends on the type of workplace, and the kind of work performed. Of course, there will be different expectations for a warehouse and an office.

Travel

In the most part, getting to work should not be a problem. If you have employees that commute on public transport, trains, for example, will reduce the speed of trains in hot weather. That’s in addition to leaves on the tracks, the “wrong kind of snow” the list goes on. I digress… make sure that any members of staff that do travel by public transport receive regular updates. You might need to be prepared for those staff to arrive late, but they should also be letting you know and updated. If you have a policy for flexible working, make sure you highlight this to affected staff.

Air

Employers are not legally obliged to have air conditioning in the workplace.  Air conditioning is not a luxury all workplaces have but if you do, make sure it is turned on, and the windows closed. If there are blinds or curtains for the windows, make sure they are being used to block out sunlight. Make sure any employees that are working outside have appropriate clothing such as a hat, and sunscreen should be available to protect them from the sun.

Water

One oft-forgotten but straightforward way to keep your employees cool is to ensure that your staff are drinking plenty of water. As an employer, you have a duty of care to provide suitable drinking water.

If you have staff working manually or outdoors, ensure that that they have regular rest breaks to come in from the sun and to get some water.

At-Risk Employees

As we all know, hot weather can make us more tired and but more so in older, pregnant, young children or those on medication. Ensure you keep your employees cool by allowing them extra breaks. If possible, provide additional fans for these employees to ensure temperatures are kept cool. You could adjust hours of work if the business permits to start earlier or finish later. Changing work hours could facilitate employees to not at work during the hottest parts of the day.

Fasting Employees

Ramadan  – the period during which Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke during daylight – is due to finish this week. If you have employees performing manual work, it might be a good idea to look at their hours and see if they can be adjusted during this period. Another alternative is to take some holiday or even some half days. Additionally, if you have important meetings, it would be better to hold these in the mornings.

Uniform/Dress Code

As an employer, you are under no obligation to change your dress code or uniform standards during hot weather. However, it might be useful to advise employees about what is acceptable and what is not during the warm weather. Wearing flip-flops might keep your employees cool, but would be a health and safety risk in the kitchen.

Summary

Put yourself in your employee’s shoes. Ask yourself if your demands would feel fair and reasonable to yourself. Use this golden rule, and you won’t go far wrong.

  • Allow extra staff breaks
  • Ensure cold drinking water is available
  • Ensure outdoors workers have suitable clothing; hat and sunscreen to protect their skin
  • Monitor At-Risk Employees
  • Consider changing work hours to avoid working in the heat of the day
  • Provide direction on dress code or uniform and what should not be worn

Finally, if you would like some further guidelines, the Health and Safety Executive has produced some guidance on Temperatures.

Alternatively, you can give me a call on 02382025160 or email me here.

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