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While many will welcome the sunshine and warmer weather, spare a thought for those who will have to work in sweltering conditions in kitchens, factories, shops and offices around the country. Working in really hot premises can be unbearable and dangerous.

Here are 8 steps to keep your work cool

  1. Sun protection: Prolonged sun exposure is dangerous for outdoor workers, so employers should provide sunscreen.
  2. Allowing flexible working: Giving staff the chance to come in earlier or stay later will let them avoid the stifling and unpleasant conditions of the rush hour commute. Bosses should also consider enabling staff to work from home while it is hot.
  3. Keeping workplace buildings cool: Workplaces can be kept cooler and more bearable by taking simple steps such as opening windows, using fans, moving staff away from windows or sources of heat.
  4. Climate-proofing workplaces: Preparing our buildings for increasingly hot weather, by installing ventilation, air-cooling and energy efficiency measures.
  5. Temporarily relaxing their workplace dress codes: Encouraging staff to work in more casual clothing than normal – leaving the jackets and ties at home – will help them keep cool. 
  6. Keeping staff comfortable: Allowing staff to take frequent breaks and providing a supply of cold drinks will all help keep workers cool.
  7. Talking and listening to staff and their union: Staff will have their own ideas about how best to cope with the excessive heat.
  8. Sensible hours and shaded areas for outdoor workers: Outside tasks should be scheduled for early morning and late afternoon, not between 11am-3pm when UV radiation levels and temperatures are highest. Bosses should provide canopies/shades where possible.

Guide for union reps


This interactive guide is for union members and reps who want to learn about the actions they can take to guard against extreme temperatures in the workplace and contribute to the fight against climate change. This guide will:

  • explain the law on working temperatures
  • give an overview of who is most at risk
  • suggest some of the ways to tackle this problem.

Watch this video where the panel discuss what reps can do to ensure their employers assess risks and introduce any necessary prevention or control measures in the workplace. 

Take action - We need a maximum working temperature

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.

We want to see guidance which asks employers to begin taking steps to reduce temperatures when they get above 24°C and workers feel uncomfortable. This is the World Heath Organisation's recommended maximum temperature for working in comfort.

While official guidance exists for a *minimum* working temperature of 16°C, there is no law to guide bosses on what a maximum should be. It's time to protect working people feeling the heat!

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