Working in the heat wave: Employers are being urged to allow flexible working practices as temperatures rise

Employers are being urged to be “more flexible” with work regulations in the coming days as rising temperatures could lead to excessive temperatures in some offices.

The mercury could hit over 30 degrees by early next week, according to the professional body for human resources and learning and development, CIPD Ireland, which issued the advice amid reports.

Ireland has no upper temperature limit when it comes to working conditions, but the Health and Safety Agency (HSA) recognizes that “an acceptable temperature for office work is in the range of 18ºC to 23ºC”. The HSA’s Guide to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations Guide 2007 also highlights that a thermometer should be available if a worker wishes to check the temperature.

“In cases where it is difficult to maintain an adequate overall temperature, it may be necessary to provide effective local heating, protective clothing or cooling at individual workplaces,” says the HSA guidance.

“The fact that no maximum temperature has been specified in the regulations does not mean that every temperature is acceptable. In the event of high or uncomfortable temperatures, particularly when not caused by temporary weather conditions, a means of cooling should be provided.”

Mary Connaughton, director of CIPD Ireland, said Ireland’s changing employment landscape means workers are now working in a variety of settings, including in the workplace itself, in remote work centers and in their own homes.

“As always, people’s health and safety must come first and while the high temperatures are only likely to stay with us for a few days, it pays to be prepared,” she said.

“This is an opportunity to let flexible working practices do what they are designed to do and adapt to the conditions at any given point in time. We’ve gotten better at drawing from this resource of flexibility over the past few years, so it’s worth keeping in mind for the coming days.”

Ms Connaughton has argued that employers should facilitate working from home “within reason” and acknowledges that some employees may prefer to carry out their duties in an air-conditioned office.

“Starting earlier and finishing earlier may be an option for some, while others may prefer to work in the cool of the evening. Work environments should be set up to minimize excessive exposure to the sun, e.g. B. by using blinds or adjusting the workplace design.

“If a company has a set of uniforms for workers, consider adapting them to the temperatures. Warm weather can affect concentration, which can be a real problem when someone is operating heavy machinery – so this needs to be assessed on the spot.”

Meanwhile, given the expected temperatures, the Business and Employers’ Confederation of Ireland (IBEC) said: “Employers will be keen to ensure their staff are comfortable while temperatures rise at work”.

“To ensure temperatures inside company buildings are appropriate, fans and air conditioning should be turned on to keep workplaces comfortable. The upgraded and improved ventilation systems that many employers will have invested in over the course of the Covid -19 pandemic will also help in this regard. In addition, blinds can be used to minimize sunlight,” IBEC said in a statement.

“Particular attention should be paid to certain cohorts of vulnerable workers, such as the elderly, pregnant women or those on medication who may need extra rest. These individuals should be prioritized for fans and reminded to stay hydrated.

“Employees who are required to wear PPE at work may also need more frequent breaks, opportunities to rehydrate and more opportunities to change PPE. The employer must provide employees with suitable drinking water at the workplace.”

IBEC said commuting to work can be “particularly challenging” during periods of high temperatures, particularly for “older workers and pregnant women,” and employers might consider allowing these workers “to commute to work during less busy periods.” or offer parking where available”. .

“Alternatively, depending on the nature of the employee’s role, it may be possible to allow the individual to work remotely on days when peak temperatures are expected. In a situation where the employee already has a hybrid work pattern, this may allow the employee to change their scheduled days in the office for the week in question,” the statement added.

IBEC said employers should also remind employees who work outdoors to wear appropriate clothing and use sunscreen, while employees — to prevent heat-related illnesses — may also need to “reduce, eliminate or postpone strenuous activities” until the coolest time of the day is. Working in the heat wave: Employers are being urged to allow flexible working practices as temperatures rise

Fry Electronics Team

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