Posted on Jul 20th 2020.
Here in the UK, we’ve had a couple of years of unusually hot summers and unlike the kids, we’re not off during this warm period.
Our summers seem to be getting increasingly hotter with each year, but there is always work to be done. This presents itself as a problem, as having to work in these extra warm conditions can be tough on our bodies.
If you’re not careful, you could be putting yourself at serious risk by working in a hot office space. To best equip you against these risks, we’ve taken a look at some of the best ways of coping with extreme heat in the workplace and how to spot the signs of someone who is suffering.
Before we talk about ways to cope with very hot weather, let’s take a look at some of the facts about working in heat.
Did you know that despite there being a minimum legal temperature for workers, there isn’t a maximum? This means that despite popular belief, employers are not required to shut down a working day due to the hot weather. It also shows how important it is to know how to correctly look after yourself when trying to get work done.
You tend to find that anything above 30 degrees is particularly harmful on the wellbeing of employees, with risks including dehydration and even heat stroke in some cases.
It’s very important that all employees are able to spot the signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, so here’s what to look out for.
Someone who is suffering from heat exhaustion might feel tired or faint, will be sweating a lot, feeling sick or having headaches. When this has progressed to heat stroke, people will be very confused and disorientated, and can potentially pass out or have a seizure.
In instances like this, an ambulance should be called and the employee requires medical help.
Now that you are aware of the risks, let’s look at how we can counterbalance the effects of the sun’s relentless glare.
Drink water, and drink plenty of it.
Something that we can’t stress enough is that whenever it’s warm outside, make sure you are consuming lots of water to counterbalance the fluids you are losing when you are sweating.
People don’t realise just how much water their body loses when it’s hot, and this can lead to heat stroke. Failing to drink enough water will also lead to headaches and a loss of focus, finding it hard to concentrate on work.
Make sure every employee has a water bottle to drink from and refill, and keep some more stocked in the fridge if you’ve got one. A water cooler is also very helpful in this situation.
Regular breaks are essential during the summer, and going outside and getting some fresh air can make a big difference.
An office can feel stuffy at the best of times, but this increases tenfold when you’ve got a group of people working in warm weather. Subjecting yourself to sitting at your desk or staying in the room for the entire workday is not good for your health, and taking the opportunity to get a breather and have some time away from this space is very much recommended.
Even just getting out and enjoying your lunch somewhere is the shade will do you wonders, so don’t underestimate what a quick break can do.
Being able to wear appropriate clothes for the weather helps a lot too, and is something that businesses need to be taking into consideration.
Most jobs will have some sort of uniform or dress code that staff members have to go by, and usually requires employees to look professional. The problem however is that most of the clothes we wear day to day during the rest of the year aren’t made from the most breathable materials, and will not help when stuck inside a warm office.
Allowing employees to wear looser fitting clothes instead of the usual get up will make things a lot easier when trying to cope, and make for a much more productive workforce. We understand that some people have meetings to go to, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t bring a more breathable outfit to change into afterwards.
You can still look professional whilst wearing short sleeves and shorts or a dress, and this flexibility in outfit choice will save employees from a lot of discomfort.
Relaxing the dress code for a couple of days is ultimately much better and more important than putting someone’s health and safety at risk.
Where possible, take measures to keep as much cool air circulating through the office and keep the temperature down.
If you’re a business that has air conditioning in your building, make use of it and keep pumping cool air into the room. Desk fans can be a huge help as well, and we recommend making one available to every desk where possible.
Offices without access to air conditioning might want to keep windows open, but be careful about any unwanted guests like flies and wasps occupying your workspace.
If you have the room to move things about, try and move any desks out of direct sunlight and into a more shaded position. It might sound silly, but we recommend turning off any equipment such as printers and computers that aren’t in use as they can contribute to the heat energy in the room.
Lastly, it’s so important that staff members are made aware of what to do when working in a hot room, and to know how to reduce the effects of heat and the ability to identify when it is effecting them too much.
Heat can be a dangerous thing, and can leave people feeling really unwell if not spotted early enough. Having a team of employees that know exactly how to identify signs of heat exhaustion and what to do in that situation is vital, and you can train staff through the likes of online training courses and articles like this.
If you’ve got any more questions about how to handle a hot workspace or what to do if someone is suffering from heat stroke, please feel free to give one of our experts a call today.
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