Yes is the answer.

There is a minimum temperature level, which is 17.5 degrees Celcius, below which employees should not be asked to work unless some heat is provided.

However there is no legal maximum temperature for employees to work in in Ireland.  So when the temperatures soar, as they will this week, to 27 degrees C and higher it is not illegal for employers to ask employees to work.  Having said that all employers are expected to act reasonably in these circumstances.

If your employees are too hot, perspiring, feeling lethargic, feeling perpetually thirsty and you do not respond you run the risk of them becoming de-hydrated and collapsing.  When they are too hot they may also make costly errors in their work.  Relationships between employees may also suffer as people become tetchy and irritable.

So if you are an employer what can you do?  Below is a list of some actions you can take to alleviate the excess heat in your workplace:

 

For Indoor Employees :   

Relax the dress code re ties and jackets if it exists

Open windows for fresh air OR

Ensure air conditioning systems are working OR

Provide fans to circulate the air

Make cold water available to all (chilled if possible but not mandatory)

Allow employees to move about away from windows etc.

 

For Outdoor employees:

Provide sun block protection and hats for those exposed

Ensure outdoor employees cover up even in heat (no bare chested heroes please)

Make cold water available to all (chilled if possible but not mandatory)

Enable employees to move away from heat sources to do with their work e.g. bitumen pots for road works

Enable employees to do alternative work in cooler environments for short periods

 

Your employees are your most valuable asset.  Employers need to protect this key asset during this short period of hot weather and those that do will reap the benefits in terms of appreciation which hopefully will lead to greater productivity, loyalty and commitment.

The overall approach should be one of what is reasonable here?

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This blog is one in a series written by Mary Darlington on aspects of Health and Safety and Safety Leadership – to read others go to her website: www.darlington.ie/blog

Mary is Ireland’s foremost Safety Leadership expert. She is a passionate health and safety trainer, speaker and consultant who although based in Waterford, Ireland operates nationally.  She is a Chartered Fellow of IOSH and established her own consultancy in 1996.  Her clients include: multinationals, SMEs, Public Sector bodies and not for profit organisations.  She is a former Board Member of Health & Safety Authority and a former Chair of IOSH Ireland, IOSH North West District and IOSH South East District.