Too hot to work? 5 tips to cool down your workforce during a summer heatwave

Blog Posted: Tuesday 26th June 2018 by

This week is shaping up to be a scorcher, with temperatures topping record highs for the year of 30C (86F); enough to buckle rails at tracks near Glasgow. But, when the temperature soars, productivity declines and tempers fray. The warmer weather really isn’t everyone’s idea of bliss.

Although living in the UK, we don’t see this sort of weather very often, be prepared to help your staff cool down and keep safe during the summer heat.

Keep an eye on vulnerable workers

Vulnerable workers such as pregnant women, employees with disabilities, employees who are observing religious fasting, or those taking medications, can be particularly at risk during the warmer weather.

As a responsible employer, these employee groups need to be protected from the extreme heat as much as possible. Consider getting in extra fans, temporarily moving vulnerable staff to cooler areas, and extending comfort breaks.

Switch on the air con

This may sound like a no-brainer, but if your workplace is lucky enough to have air-con installed, then it’s time to flick the on switch. If not, then keep hot offices cooler by opening windows but closing blinds to keep the sun out. It’s also worth investing in some good quality fans to help cool down hot workers.

Hydrate and stay that way

It’s more important than ever to keep hydrated during the hot weather and make sure your staff do, too. Dehydration can get very serious quite quickly and it’s important to know the signs.

If anyone in your workplace complains of breathlessness, confusion, intense thirst, weakness, dizziness or cramps, then it’s time to seek immediate help by calling 111.  You can see more advice on coping in hot weather on the NHS Choices website.

The people most at risk of dehydration are those who are very physically active, on medication or suffer from a long-term illness or disability.

To help your staff stay as hydrated as possible, ask them to consider reducing their caffeine during the day and upping their intake of water, juice, and squash. If your offices have a paid vending facilities, considering providing free bottles of water until the hot weather passes.

Relax your dress code

Suits and ties can make for uncomfortable wearing during a heatwave. As can black or darker-coloured uniforms. If you have a smart or uniformed dress code at work, then consider relaxing it during the warmer weather. Even taking off a tie and wearing a short-sleeved shirt can make all the difference. However, there’s probably also such as a thing as too casual and not appropriate…

Don’t forget to be mindful of any inadvertent and unlawful discrimination with your company dress code.

If you have staff that work outside, then a quick reminder to cover up, wear a hat/bandana and soak themselves in suncream is always a good idea.

Switch up your day

The longer the day drags on, the hotter it gets, with the hottest part of the day being between 11am and 3pm. If you have long meetings planned for lunchtime then take them offsite, somewhere your team can be more comfortable. Or, consider flipping your day altogether and holding meetings first thing in the morning.

The same applies to travel; try not to use public transport for too long during the hottest part of the day, especially as you can leave yourself wide open to becoming severely dehydrated.

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