Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has called on shops to “protect workers‘ health and wellbeing” by doing their best to keep workspaces cool.
Daniel comments: “Working in retail can be tiring and hot at the best of times, particularly when its busy, but in the soaring temperatures we’ve experienced this week, I believe it‘s the responsibility of retailers to protect their workers by doing what they can to keep them cool. Whether this is bringing in air conditioning units and fans, or relaxing uniform regulations, or providing regular cold drinks, employers must do what they can to improve working conditions during this heatwave.”
Some shops in the city have been reported to have temperatures exceeding 30 degrees, the absolute maximum that guidance from the Health and Safety Executive suggests is acceptable. All shops should have thermometers visible for staff to be able to check, although while there is a legally enforceable minimum workplace temperature, there is not a corresponding maximum enforceable temperature.
John Hannett, the General Secretary of shop workers‘ union Usdaw, says: “With the hot weather in many parts of the country this week we want workers to know that employers are expected to take reasonable steps to deal with uncomfortably high temperatures. Usdaw wants to see a legal maximum working temperature introduced of 30°C – or 27°C for those doing strenuous work – with employers obliged to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24°C.“
“Experts say the comfort zone is normally in the region of 16°C to 24°C. As the temperature rises above this zone, heat exhaustion starts. People start to suffer loss of concentration, there are increases in accidents and loss of productivity. Symptoms include irritability, dizziness, headaches, nausea and fainting.“
“For better health and safety in your workplace, make sure you’re in a union and talk to your rep. Usdaw produces a helpful advice leaflet on this issue Keep Your Cool Tackling Heat Stress at Work.”