With the recent spell of good weather set to continue, a group of MPs has tabled an Early Day Motion calling for workers to be sent home when the workplace temperature reaches 30C.
The group claims that the motion, tabled by Labour MP Linda Riordan, may help prevent potentially fatal accidents.
It calls for those undertaking "strenuous" work to be sent home when their workplace temperature reaches 27C.
The motion posits that working in high temperatures can lead to a "reduction in cognitive function, attention span and visual motor tracking," which may cause accidents and fatalities."
"Employees in a wide range of workplaces - from industrial bakeries to school classrooms - are often subjected to high temperatures which can impact seriously on their health and well-being, with effects ranging from discomfort, stress, irritability and headaches, to extra strain on the heart and lungs, dizziness and fainting and heat cramps due to loss of water and salt," the motion says.
The MPs have also pointed out that while minimum legal temperatures for indoor workplaces exist, there are no regulations on maximum temperatures.
Current guidance from the Health and Safety Executive states that places of work must be kept at a "reasonable temperature" of at least 16C, or 13C if much of the work is physical. The deaths of two soldiers during a training exercise in Wales on Saturday highlight the risks even further.
A&E wards in some parts of the country had higher than average admissions over the weekend and figures released by Public Health England tomorrow are expected to show that calls to NHS Direct and 111 phone lines about heat-related concerns spiked last week.
After the heatwave of 2003, when temperatures topped 38C and there were 2,000 extra deaths over 10 baking days in August, public health authorities brought in a comprehensive heatwave plan. It predicts that by 2040, the extremes of temperature seen in 2003 will become the norm.
The heat, UV rays, high pollen counts and air pollution all combine to create a major public health headache. Tuesday is expected to be the hottest day of the year, with the Met Office forecasting the temperature will pass 32C for the first time since last August.
The TUC has also been campaigning for a maximum workplace temperature. Despite this, it is unlikely that the motion, signed by seven other MPs, will become law. Health authorities are now warning that extreme summer heat is set to become the norm – and that we need to get better at preparing for it.Reuse content