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Workplace Max Temperature Legislation Recommended By House Of Commons
Environment Committee

Labour’s MP for Wakefield, Mary Creagh, Chairs the House of Commons select committee on the Environment which has issued their latest report on climate change – Heatwaves: Adapting To Climates Change – specifically prompted by the current heatwave and the need to plan legislation for them being a regular if not permanent event annually.

Amongst the recommendations is one of the most important workplace recommendations that the TUC and all Trade Union Health and Safety departments have been fighting for since Thatcher eliminated it: maximum workplace temperatures!

The report is extensive and reports on various problems that Government policy needs to address: cause Thedeveloping threat of heatwaves, Responsibility for heatwave preparation, Protecting health and wellbeing, Productivity during heatwaves.

It is specifically in the area of protecting health and wellbeing that Union Safety Reps and their National Health & Safety Officers have been so actively lobbying over the years, for changes in workplace health and safety legislation.

However, and not surprisingly, the report shows more concern for the state of workplace productivity in addressing the issue of worker’s health and wellbeing during heatwaves. In fact, this problem during heatwaves is addressed not in the section on protecting health and wellbeing as one might expect, but in the section entitled, ‘Productivity during heatwaves’.

The report addresses this in stating that:

Heatwaves can result in overheating workplaces and lower employee productivity. In 2010, approximately five million staff days were lost due to overheating above 26°C resulting in economic losses of £770 million.

Given that extreme temperature events in Europe are now 10 times more likely than they were in the early 2000s, similar losses will occur more frequently. However, some businesses, particularly smaller businesses, do not have business continuity plans in place.

The Government should make businesses aware of the developing threat of heatwaves and the economic consequences. Public Health England should also issue formal guidance to employers to relax dress codes and allow flexible working when heatwave alerts are issued.
The Government should consult on introducing maximum workplace temperatures, especially for work that involves significant physical effort.

However, Union Safety Reps will no doubt argue that excessively hot working environments for those doing sedentary work such as office work and call centre working, can be just as damaging to health, and especially when it comes to pregnant workers; than work which involves physical  activity.

The CWU’s Health Safety and Environment Department has issued annually, advice and guidance for the Union’s members on heatwaves and working outdoors during hot summer months and unionsafety has been at the forefront of reporting on these issues and providing the Union’s guidance via the on-line E-Library Database

This latest Select Committee report can be downloaded from the E-Library too, or by clicking on the pic above.

You will also find documents concerning workplace temperatures in two search categories of the on-line library: Outdoor Working and Environment (Workplace).

Source: Parliament UK / Derek Maylor



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