Extreme heat in the workplace: How to keep factory & warehouse staff safe and comfortable


AFTER concerns around temperature laws hit the headlines in the last number of weeks, a second extreme heat warning has been issued by the Met Office this week, as temperatures are expected to build once again.

In response to England experiencing its first ever red warning for extreme heat last month, there has been continued awareness raised about temperatures in the workplace having the potential to become a health and safety issue. Employers struggling to keep working areas within the recommended temperatures is a serious concern.

In line with this concern, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for a legally enforceable limit, suggesting a maximum temperature of 30C for regular indoor work and 27C for strenuous work. The TUC says employers should act to bring down temperatures if they exceed 24C, however.

Hazel Bulgin, UK Sales Manager at Slingsby, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of industrial and commercial equipment, has some simple and practical tips on how employers can keep factory and warehouse staff safe and comfortable at work during periods of soaring temperatures of further heatwaves that arise:

  • Check air conditioning and ventilation units are working at their optimum level – there may not be time to install new systems, but some quick maintenance checks could make all the difference. If more localised air cooling is required, in the case where conditioning systems are not adequate or, air conditioning systems are not installed within industrial environments, then a combination of fans, mobile air coolers and evaporative air coolers can be adopted.
  • Place plastic PVC strip curtains over open building entrances to help block out harmful UV rays and maintain temperatures.
  • Solar-control window film can be installed quickly and will work to deflect the sun’s heat, especially on windows that you know receive a lot of direct sunlight. This method can help to reduce your reliance on air-conditioning and work to save on your energy bills.
  • Keep machinery and electrical equipment switched off overnight and when not in use. Heavy machinery generates a lot of heat, and this will help to bring down the room temperature of your warehouse or factory floor. Placing signage near machinery to remind workers to ‘switch off when not in use’ could prove helpful too.
  • Adding water coolers to communal areas can help staff members stay cool and hydrated.
  • Encourage employees to take cover away from the direct sunlight during lunch and smoking breaks. Create additional temporary shaded areas outside with parasols if you have the space.
  • Monitor room temperatures across the different areas of your workplace with thermometers.
  • During heatwaves and throughout the summer, the pollen count may be high and so, it is worth considering investing in air purifiers for your working environment, to help ensure employees are comfortable, especially those with hay fever.

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