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UK heatwave: Can you just go home if it gets too hot at work?

Mirror logo Mirror 19/06/2017 James Andrews
Credits: Met Office © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Met Office

How hot does it have to get before you can go home from work?

With temperatures hitting new highs this week, it's fair to ask whether you can be kept at work as things get uncomfortable.

“When the workplace gets too hot it is more than just an issue about comfort,” the TUC argues.

“If the temperature goes too high then it can become a health and safety issue. If people get too hot, they risk dizziness, fainting, or even heat cramps.

“In very hot conditions the body’s blood temperature rises. If the blood temperature rises above 39°C, there is a risk of heat stroke or collapse.

"Delirium or confusion can occur above 41°C. Blood temperatures at this level can prove fatal and even if a worker does recover, they may suffer irreparable organ damage.”

So what are your rights?

The rules

The TUC wants to make it illegal to keep people at work indoors if the temperature is above 30°C and protection in place for people working outside or driving for a living too.

Sadly, that's not happened yet – but the good news is that there are rules that can let you leave an office that's too hot, just no official maximum temperature.

“An employer must provide a working environment which is, as far as is reasonably practical, safe and without risks to health. In addition, employers have to assess risks and introduce any necessary prevention or control measures,” the TUC explains.

Related: 23 signs you're about to be fired

So over to the Health and Safety Executive, who provide the regulatory framework for work place health and safety in Britain, to explain what to do if things get uncomfortable.

“A meaningful maximum figure cannot be given due to the high temperatures found in, for example, glass works or foundries,” HSE explains.

“The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 lay down particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment. Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:

"During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.

“However, the application of the regulation depends on the nature of the workplace, such as a bakery, a cold store, an office, a warehouse.”

Employers also have to provide “clean, fresh air” as well as keep temperatures at a comfortable level.

So how hot does it have to be to complain?

The good news is that, because there's no official limit, you can get action taken whatever the temperature as long as people think it's uncomfortable.

“If a significant number of employees are complaining about thermal discomfort, your employer should carry out a risk assessment, and act on the results of that assessment,” the HSE explains.

Related: 29 things you should stop saying at work in 2017

If you're a more vulnerable employee – for example have a thyroid imbalance or are undergoing the menopause, or need to wear protective equipment at work so can't take of layers - that also has to be taken into account.

So the answer is simple – if you're uncomfortable, tell your boss. If enough people do then they have to act.

You can see more information here.

The 37 jobs that are most damaging to your health (Business Insider)

<p>Some jobs intrinsically have more health risks than others.</p><p> A flight attendant working in close quarters with passengers is more likely to catch an infectious disease than a lawyer working in an office, for example. Factor in the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pgms/worknotify/pdfs/fa_notification_final.pdf"> greater exposure to cosmic radiation</a>, abnormal sleep patterns, and a <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/a-flight-attendant-answers-the-questions-youve-always-wanted-to-ask-2016-5/#-14?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=msn-slideshow&utm_campaign=bodyurl"> less-than-clean work environment</a>, and it's just not the healthiest job.</p><p> To rank the most unhealthy jobs in America, we used data from the <a href="http://www.onetonline.org/">Occupational Information Network</a>, a US Department of Labor database full of detailed information on occupations.</p><p> In order to analyze jobs by their impact on workers' health, we took O*NET measures of six health risks in each of the 974 occupations in the database: exposure to contaminants; exposure to disease and infection; exposure to hazardous conditions; exposure to radiation; risk of minor burns, cuts, bites, and stings; and time spent sitting, since studies show that <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/the-sitting-disease-is-killing-the-american-workforce-2013-8?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=msn-slideshow&utm_campaign=bodyurl">frequent inactivity shortens your lifespan</a>. O*NET scores these factors on a scale from 0 to 100, with a higher score indicating an increased health risk.</p><p> Read on to find out which jobs have the most potential to damage your health.</p> The 37 jobs that are most damaging to your health

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