At Emo, we’ve always been concerned about keeping your home the right temperature, but working in the heat during the summer is just as important when it comes to safe temperatures. Whether you’re working indoors or outside, there are precautions and tips you can apply to protect yourself and ensure you stay safe and comfortable at work. At present, there is no legislation in Ireland around maximum temperatures for a workplace, but when the temperature creeps up it can impact negatively on concentration and productivity, so it’s in everyone’s best interests to make the working environment as comfortable as possible.
Heat stress can occur any time, not just during a hot spell in the summer, for example if you work in a manufacturing plant, a laundry, or a kitchen or bakery where the temperature will naturally be higher with all the cooking equipment. Heat stress occurs when the body can’t regulate the internal temperature, and this is very dangerous. It can lead to muscle cramps, a heat rash, a severe thirst, and even fainting. The most dangerous symptom is heat stroke, which can be fatal so it’s essential that steps are taken so that working in the heat during the summer remains safe. Find out more about heat stress and what to do to treat and prevent it.
Working in the heat causes your core body temperature to rise, so your body kicks in to protect you by increasing the amount of sweat, and when you sweat more you are more likely to dehydrate. Dehydration is very dangerous so during the warmer weather you should always have access to cool water to replenish fluids lost. Ideally, you should also have rest periods where you can remove protective layers of clothing which can impair your body’s ability to maintain the core temperature, and if you work outside seek shade to rest in.
Working outside might sound great, but the sun’s UV rays are harmful and dangerous, so you need to make sure you protect any part of your skin which is exposed with sun cream, and reapply it regularly throughout the day if you sweat it off.
For some professions specialist clothing is mandatory, such as high vis vests or protective hazmat suits, which can be uncomfortable to work in when the temperature is hot. If possible, remove this when taking breaks to cool down more quickly. If you have a choice in clothing for work, remember loose fitting and breathable fabrics are better for keeping you cool and comfortable during a day at the office.
Working from home
Not everyone leaves the house to go work, and if you work from home you have a bit more freedom when it comes to working in the heat during the summer. The same general rules apply however – if you’re working in the garden stay in the shade, protect yourself with sun cream and drink plenty of water during the day to prevent dehydration.