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When Is It Too Hot to Work? These Are The Rules to Know

Men's Health UK logo Men's Health UK 22/07/2021 Men's Health
a man wearing a fan: Should you be working, or sunbating? Here's the answer © humonia - Getty Images Should you be working, or sunbating? Here's the answer

Feeling the heat this week? Us too. According to Google Trends, the phrase 'too hot' has quadrupled in search requests this week, with millions of us grappling with the balmy weather.

With a lot of workers either working from home or being required to go into their workplace with the recent easing of restrictions, the extra heat is another unwelcome source of stress. So, what are the rules and regulations about working in this heat and, crucially, is there anything you can do about it?

At the time of writing, there isn't a set temperature that would be deemed unsafe for workers. "A meaningful maximum figure cannot be given due to the high temperatures found in, for example, glass works or foundries," explained The Health and Safety Executive.

However, The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers states that each type of working environment has an optimum temperature for employee safety:

  • Offices and dining rooms: 20°C
  • Hospital wards and shops: 18°C
  • Heavy work in factories: 13°C
  • Light work in factories: 16°C

"The summer heat can bring real health risks. As our climate changes, hot spells are expected to be more frequent and more intense," explains a Met Office article — currently, the Met Office is issuing an amber 'Heat-Health Alert' for the first time — on coping in the heat. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important that you know what actions to take to keep yourself and others safe from high temperatures."

"Everybody can be affected by high temperatures and most people are aware of good health advice for coping with hot weather. However, it’s important to keep checking on those who are most vulnerable such as older people and those with heart or lung conditions," says Dr Owen Landeg, Scientific and Technical Lead at Public Health England.

"As we experience the first hot weather episode of the year, it’s important for everyone to remember to adapt their behaviours. This is particularly important during the pandemic with many people self-isolating."

"Most of us want to enjoy the sun. Remember to look out for signs of heat exhaustion and follow our simple health advice to beat the heat."


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