Tuesday 25 September 2018

Can you refuse to work in this weather? All you need to know about workplace regulations during heatwave

A temperature scale on a beach shows high temperatures during a heat wave.
A temperature scale on a beach shows high temperatures during a heat wave.
Lauren Chaney and her brother Darragh enjoying the sun on Bull Island Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Sophie Ducasse (5) having fun in Skerries Pic:Mark Condren
Michelle Moore & Maura Lynskey enjoying the good weather on Bull Island, Dublin Photo Gareth Chaney Collins
Cael Skehan enjoying the weather on Bull Island Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Lucia Pivarci enjoying the weather on Bull Island Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Pictured are Heloisa Belarmino and Luiz Rodrigo Pereira enjoying the sunshine and hot weather along Dublin's canals: RollingNews.ie
Clodagh Howley Mulhall (5) and Katie George Brennan (3) having fun in Loughshinny Pic: Mark Condren
People enjoying the good weather in Stephens Green,Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
HOT: Sunbathers at Brittas Bay yesterday. Photo: Neil Carson
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

Sunseekers rejoice - temperatures are set to soar as high as 28C today and Met Eireann has said that the heatwave is set to last for two weeks.

While many of us are enjoying the warm spell, there have been questions about just how hot is too hot to be in work?

Soaking up the sun in parks and at beaches is glorious but there are regulations in place to protect employees.

According to the Health and Safety Authority's Health and Welfare at Work (General Applications) Regulations 2007 there is no maximum temperature at which staff can refuse to do their duties.

However "it is suggested that for most people an acceptable temperature for office work lies within the range of 18 to 23C," the document states.

"The temperature in rest areas, rooms for duty staff, sanitary facilities, canteens and first-aid rooms is appropriate to the particular purpose of such areas and in parts of the workplace other than workrooms, such as sanitary or rest facilities, the temperature should be reasonable in all the circumstances including the length of time people are likely to be there.

"Changing rooms and shower rooms should be adequately heated."

It notes that excessive heat shining into the workplaces should be avoided using means such as blinds or low-emissivity glass.

Clodagh Howley Mulhall (5) and Katie George Brennan (3) having fun in Loughshinny
Pic: Mark Condren
Clodagh Howley Mulhall (5) and Katie George Brennan (3) having fun in Loughshinny Pic: Mark Condren
Sophie Ducasse (5) having fun in Skerries Pic:Mark Condren
Lauren Chaney and her brother Darragh enjoying the sun on Bull Island Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Gaving fun on Skerries beach Photo: Mark Condren
Cael Skehan enjoying the weather on Bull Island Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Priya Murphy Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
A temperature scale on a beach shows high temperatures during a heat wave.
Lucia Pivarci enjoying the weather on Bull Island Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
HOT: Sunbathers at Brittas Bay yesterday. Photo: Neil Carson
Michelle Moore & Maura Lynskey enjoying the good weather on Bull Island, Dublin Photo Gareth Chaney Collins
Gallagher Brothers (L to R) Conor 4 & 3 Alex both from Maynooth enjoying the good weather in Stephens Green,Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Roly the Tibetan terrier & Kate O'Callaghan from Sutton enjoying the good weather in Stephens Green,Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Mayara Agappes orignally from Sao Paulo Brazil but now living in Kilmainham enjoying the good weather in Stephens Green,Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
People enjoying the good weather in Stephens Green,Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Staff are also entitled to have some means to ready measure the temperature in their workplace.

The Irish Business Employers Confederation says "Any refusal by the employees to work would then place them in breach of their contracts of employment, which could lead to loss of pay/disciplinary action."

When it comes to uniform in this weather, IBEC says employers should be careful about relaxing rules.

"Allowing maintenance staff for instance, to discard overalls because of the heat, could result in an increase in the number of accidents, caused by, for example, broken glass or splinters of wood."

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