In July, the UK experienced an extreme heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 40℃ for the first time in some parts of the country. Health warnings were issued as a result of this extreme heat. Interestingly, in the UK there is no guaranteed legal safeguard to prevent employees working in high temperatures.
Amid the soaring temperatures of last month, MPs signed a motion calling on the Government to introduce legislation to limit maximum workplace temperatures to 30℃, or 27℃ for those completing ‘strenuous’ work. In addition to this, they have called for employers to introduce effective control measures, such as installing ventilation systems or moving members of staff away from heat sources.
At present, it is recommended that all employers ensure that temperatures inside buildings are ‘reasonable’ for their employees. Curiously, there is a limit on the minimum workplace temperature of 16℃, but there is no limit in relation to the maximum temperature. Unions have also become involved, and have called on the Government to set a limit on the maximum workplace temperature in order to protect workers’ health.
With the UK experiencing extreme weather events more frequently, it will be interesting to monitor the progress of this motion and whether it results in a maximum workplace temperature being set in UK law.