TUC calls on employers to ensure workers are protected during the hot weather

By agency reporter
June 27, 2018

With the temperatures set to hit 30 degrees in parts of the UK this week, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on employers to make sure that any staff working outdoors are protected from sun and heat.

The TUC says that workers like builders, agricultural workers and gardeners who are outside for lengthy periods in high temperatures are at risk of sunstroke, sunburn and even skin cancer. Working in hot weather can also lead to dehydration, tiredness, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting, and – in the most extreme cases – loss of consciousness.

Employers can work with their health and safety union reps, suggests the TUC, and introduce the following measures to protect their staff who work outdoors:

  • Allow staff to take plenty of breaks and provide a supply of drinking water
  • Organise work so outside tasks are done earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon, rather than between 11am-3pm when temperatures are highest
  • Provide canopies or covering over open areas and shaded areas for breaks
  • Ensure that outdoor workers have sunscreen and are given advice on the need to protect themselves from the heat and sun – it would be helpful if the advice is available in other languages for migrant workers.
  • Provide lightweight brimmed hats for all outdoor workers and make sure that any protective clothing is lightweight, long-sleeved and comfortable.

The heat can also be dangerous for workers whose jobs involve driving, warns the TUC, as any driver suffering from fatigue is a risk to themselves and other people.

Employers should provide cars, vans or lorries with air conditioning. The TUC also suggests that driving in very high temperatures should be avoided if a there is a likelihood that a driver may be stuck in traffic for any length of time.

The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We all love to see the sunshine. But working outdoors in sweltering conditions can be unbearable and dangerous. Bosses must ensure their staff are protected with regular breaks, lots of fluids, plenty of sunscreen and the right protective clothing.

“Anyone worried about their working conditions should join a union, it’s the best way to stay safe at work and make sure you are represented and your voice heard.”

* Read the TUC guide for working in high temperatures here

*TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/

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