Working in a heatwave: Keeping your employees safe

Working in a heatwave: Keeping your employees safe

There is nothing quite like a British heatwave - but ensuring you stay safe as temperatures soar takes more than just a decent sunscreen. You have a duty of care to ensure the safety of your staff, and effective facilities management can help.

Stallard Kane's Compliance Manager, Natalie Hurdwell, shares a few tips for keeping your employees safe and well during a heatwave.

Use natural air

Though air conditioning can be a fan favourite in heatwaves, natural or fresh air ventilation should be used wherever possible. Natural air ventilation can be achieved simply by opening a window or, if your air conditioning system is fitted (or can be retrofitted) with fresh air supply, selecting fresh air rather than recirculation. This will reduce the infection rate in highly populated spaces and limit the spread of transmissible infections, including Covid-19.

Ensure you air conditioning is clean

If you’ve got air conditioning or ducted air handling, it must be regularly cleaned and serviced to ensure it works optimally. This is true both in terms of energy efficiency and the reduction of pollen, dust and bacteria in the air.

PAT test your fans and cooling towers

Desk fans and cooling towers suddenly appear across offices and public spaces as the temperature rises. But be careful if you use cooling or tower fans in your workplace – make sure they are PAT tested, avoid daisy-chaining the plugs, and check for trip hazards from trailing wires.

Check-in on your team with occupational health screening

A robust occupational health screening programme will help you identify potential risk factors in your workforce. Some vulnerable workers might need reasonable adjustments or be more likely to require additional support in extreme heat. Occupational health screening is a proactive way of identifying risks, helping signpost your employees to pathways for extra help and reducing absenteeism.

No two people are the same

Everyone reacts to heat differently, and your employees should be trained to recognise the symptoms of heat illness. Regular occupational health surveillance or an effective employee wellbeing programme is a great platform to help you get the message across.

Ensure your electrics have an up-to-date - and satisfactory - EICR

Overheating cables can be a risk in extreme heat; cables cannot carry their current capacity when it’s very hot and subsequently become a greater fire risk. Ensuring you have a regular EICR with correct cabling identification will inform you of any potential for overloading. 

About the author

This article is provided by our sister company, Stallard Kane, a specialist risk management service provider offering expert advice and solutions in Health and Safety, HR, Risk Solutions and Training. This article is for general guidance only and aims to provide general information on a relevant topic in a concise form. This article should not be regarded as advice in relation to a particular circumstance. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific advice.

If you want a truly personalised service, contact your usual Towergate advisor today who can put you in touch with Stallard Kane’s HR Team to discuss your requirements – call 01427 420 403 or email, and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.