Hot weather conditions – practical steps to keep safe over this period.
With extreme temperatures reaching a record high this Summer, the MET office has issued many weather alerts affecting most parts of the country. With the majority of the CSC client base predominantly hospitality and leisure driven, we look at how this may impact the working environment and the practical measures that may be taken.
According to the HSE, the law does not state a minimum or maximum temperature, but the temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16°C (or 13°C if much of the work involves rigorous physical effort).
Hazards associated with extreme hot working environments can include heat exhaustion which can result in fatigue, giddiness, nausea, headache, and moist skin.
Other symptoms of working in extreme weather conditions can also include the inability to concentrate, heat rash, fainting and thirst.
Heat Stroke is a life threatening condition where the body loses the ability to control its own temperature. If not detected in time, this disorder can result in death. Typical symptoms include hot dry skin, confusion, convulsions and eventual loss of consciousness.
Who is at risk? The following is a non-exhaustive list of persons likely to be at high risk of heat injury in hot weather or hot environments: - Kitchen staff, maintenance staff, outdoor staff such as gardeners, staff using personal protective equipment e.g. breathing apparatus, respirators, impermeable protective over clothing, vulnerable groups (includes the elderly, babies, expectant mothers and people with weakened immune systems).
What precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of heat related illness?
The best precaution is to avoid exposure to extreme hot environments altogether or to reduce exposure to harmful conditions. Don’t forget to risk assess the task at hand!
- Employers should provide information to staff regarding the signs and symptoms of heat stress
- The importance of regular drinking of water should be stressed to staff. Ensure adequate drinking water is available to all staff
- Provide frequent breaks in a cool environment away from the sun and sources of heat such as cooking equipment and other heating processes. The hotter the environment and/or more strenuous the work the more frequent and/or longer breaks should be
- Rotate staff on the hot range in particular, as often as possible
- If the working environment can be modified e.g. as in a building, then means of cooling and humidification or dehumidification should be provided
- Ensure the air vents feeding the hot range area are fully opened
- Open windows if possible
- Put the extraction on maximum power
- Limit the time to be exposed to the harmful rays of the sun. Do not go out in the sun. Change the time of day the job is done to a cooler time of day. Remember sunscreen!
- Personal protective equipment should be specially designed for work in hot environments. e.g. light coloured loose fitting/absorbent over clothing
- The company clothing policy should be reviewed/relaxed during extreme heart conditions
At CSC we cannot overemphasis the importance of ensuring that the wellbeing of your staff in these hot working conditions is given priority. All members of staff should be given information on how to avoid heat stress and dehydration, including what signs and symptoms to look out for.
If you require any further advice regarding safety requirements during extreme heat conditions, do not hesitate to contact us.