Beat the heat: Coping with heat at work during COVID-19

Blogs 31 May 2020

As temperatures rise this summer and businesses begin to reopen their doors, learn how you can stay safe in the heat during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This content was updated June 2020

The government has released guidance on how you can stay cool whilst keeping safe during COVID-19. If your workplace is reopening, you could print a copy for your business and display it as a reminder to staff and customers.

The guidance covers three main areas to help you beat the heat:

1. Stay cool at home

Due to social distancing, many of us will need to stay safe at home this summer, so know how to keep your home cool, for example with open windows or fans. Be sure to look out for others, and follow COVID-19 guidance.

2. Stay cool, keep well

Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated, and avoid excess alcohol. Remember to slow down when it’s hot, and keep an eye on the forecast so you can avoid high temperatures when possible.

3. Cooler, safer places

Use cool outdoor spaces considerately, and remember to keep your distance. You can go indoors or outdoors, whichever feels cooler. However, if advised to do so, you should self-isolate at home.

Staying cool in the workplace

Productivity is an area that can take a hit in these intense spells of sunshine, as employees arrive at to work tired from an uncomfortable night sleep, but then struggling in the heat of the day.

So, while it isn’t always possible to make certain changes, there are a few things that employers can do:

  • Is there scope to dress down?
  • Could working hours be altered, especially those involved in work that exposes people to heat?
  • Can extra breaks for water and refreshments be brought in?
  • Is there a good airflow going through the building?
  • Could you invest in fans or air conditioning?

The current law stipulates that employers must ensure “reasonable” working conditions, but there are no maximum temperature limits for the workplace.

With daytime temperatures soaring as we approach the summer months, working conditions can become difficult for some, especially the young, elderly or those with medical conditions.

Be alert and stay informed

You should be on the lookout for signs of heat related illness in the workplace. If you get too hot, cool your skin with water, slow down and drink water. Call NHS 111 if you need help, or 999 in an emergency.

Find more information about staying safe in the heat on the NHS website.

Visit our coronavirus hub for the latest advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed.