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Employers must prepare for warmer future

UK: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is advising businesses to consider ventilation and air conditioning as part of their long-term planning for warmer weather in the future.

After last month’s record-breaking temperatures and with more hot weather experienced this week, the HSE says adapting to climate change is something all businesses will need to consider as warmer weather becomes more frequent.

The HSE points out that employers have a legal obligation under the Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations to assess risks to the health and safety of workers. They must review the risk controls they have in place and update them if needed. This includes risks from more frequent extreme weather such as heatwaves.

While there is no maximum temperature for workplaces, the HSE insists that all workers are entitled to an environment where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Heat is classed as a hazard and comes with legal obligations like any other hazard.

“We expect employers to take this recent weather event as the prompt to review how they assess the risk of high temperatures in their workplace and identify now those changes that will future proof them,” said John Rowe, HSE’s acting head of operational strategy.

“All workplaces need to acknowledge that the working environment is changing. There are low-cost adaptations to the structure of work, but things like improved ventilation and air conditioning should also be considered which will involve investment in the workplace,” he added.

“Extreme heat that we have witnessed of late isn’t going to stop and we want employers to plan and respond to this now.”

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