Statutory Maximum Working Temperature Campaign -
House of Commons Early Day Motion

Dave Joyce, CWU's National Health, Safety & Environment Officer has written to all CWU branches to advice them of a new campaign by MPs to back changes to the health & safety at work regulations which will mandate a maximum working temperature.

Trade Unions, including the CWU, have been calling for this ever since Thatcher abolished this element of workplace legislation. In the current political climate of abolishing as many rules and legislation on worker's rights, including health and safety at work; it is highly unliekely the government will take any notice, even if the EDM ends up being carried in Parliament.

The full text of Dave's letter to branches (LTB437/2016) follows:
 
An early day motion has been put down in the House of Commons supporting the TUC campaign for a maximum legal working temperature in the workplace.

All Union National Health and Safety Officers met at TUC HQ recently to discuss this and other key issues following 'Brexit'. It was agreed that it would be good to get a large number of MP signatures across all parties, to support the campaign led by the TUC and a number of Unions including the CWU.

The Early Day Motion is as follows:-

EDM 344 - STATUTORY MAXIMUM WORKING TEMPERATURE

Session: 2016-17
Date tabled: 18.07.2016
Primary sponsor: Ian Mearns MP.

“That this House notes that workers in the UK lack adequate legal safeguards from working in uncomfortably high temperatures, owing to the lack of a statutory maximum temperature at which employers would have to introduce control measures, such as breaks, access to water or air conditioning; further notes that this would correct an anomaly in current legislation where a legal minimum working temperature exists, but a corresponding upper limit does not exist in statute; appreciates that excessive heat in the workplace is responsible for heat stress and thermal discomfort, and can impact seriously on health, well-being and productivity; recognises that this is a matter of concern for workers in a wide range of workplaces including offices, schools, shops, bakeries, vehicles, trains, call-centres, theatres and construction sites; and calls on the Government to adopt the recommendations of the TUC and joint union Cool It campaign to introduce into law a maximum working temperature of 30 degrees Celsius or 27 degrees Celsius for those doing strenuous work, beyond which employers would have a statutory duty to introduce effective control measures.”

So far 8 MPs from 4 political parties have signed the EDM. Branches and Health and Safety Reps are requested to approach local MPs in the Branch Area requesting that they sign the EDM.

The TUC is calling on all Employers to help staff cope with the heatwave so staff can work through the heatwave as comfortably as possible.
 
With temperatures currently hitting the mid-30's Celsius in the UK this week, the launch of EDM 344 is very timely.

For many years the TUC, CWU and many major Trade Unions have been pushing for a change in the UK's health and safety regulations to introduce a new maximum indoor work temperature. The TUC wants this set at 30C or 27C for those doing strenuous jobs – with employers obliged to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24C.

Where people are working outdoors, employers should consider reviewing working times so that, where possible, work is performed outside peak sunlight and temperature periods in the middle of the day and otherwise providing breaks, water and sun protection when temperatures are highest.

The TUC says that this week employers can help their staff by working with their Trade Unions to examine and look at how best to minimise risks.

Working in sweltering conditions can be unbearable and dangerous. Apart from members working in buildings without effective ventilation and air conditioning which is intolerable, we have Postal Workers performing outside manual work in the hottest part of the day.

Employers and managers should ensure that staff are protected as far as is reasonably practicable. I'm not convinced that this is currently the case and I have today raised concerns with the Royal Mail Chief Operating Officer.

To keep work cool, the TUC would like to see employers:-

  • Relax formal dress codes and allow staff with formal attire e.g. jackets and ties to be allowed to wear short sleeves, vest tops and shorts.
  • Ensure that outdoor workers are supplied with sun-screen and water and are given advice on the need to protect themselves from the heat and sun.
  • Distribute fans to indoor staff and provide portable air cooling cabinets.
  • Install and maintain air conditioning systems, ensuring that it doesn’t break down during a heatwave.
  • Allow more flexible working so that staff can have the option of coming in earlier and staying later to avoid the sweltering conditions of the rush hour commute.
  • Move desks away from windows, draw blinds or install reflective film.
  • Allow staff to take frequent breaks and provide a ready supply of cool drinks.

Although the current Health and Safety Law states that staff should work in a reasonable temperature, there is no legal maximum.

Employees are not expected to work when the temperature drops below 16C (or 13C if they are doing physically demanding work), but there are no similar restrictions for when the workplace becomes too hot.

The TUC would like to see the law changed so there is an absolute indoor maximum of 30C, with employers forced to introduce cooling measures when the temperature hits 24C.

The TUC’s advice on how to handle working through a heatwave can be downloaded here

Source: CWU


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