Dan Norris, West of England Metro Mayor, has called on regional employers to step up protect workers as temperatures soar and the government dither.
With climate change bringing higher temperatures to the UK more often, the Mayor is calling on the government to create a long-term plan. He says it’s vital to adapt to keep workers safe and help ensure British businesses don’t fall behind other nations who have prepared more effectively for more frequent and hotter temperatures.
Mr Norris said: “It’s not a surprise that once again it is unusually hot because that is the effect of climate change. But we cannot have a situation where we are so unprepared each time meaning our workplaces are too hot, our railway tracks melt, and our ambulances are on critical alert. We need a government that is taking serious action to keep workers safe in a warming world and that ensures our economy does fall further behind our main competitors as the planet heats up .
“Tory ministers seem far more worried about their leadership contest hotting up than the latest heatwave. We need clear public health messaging for employers and employees right now. The Government is failing to show leadership as Britain boils but as regional leaders we will step up.”
With the Met Office warning temperatures could hit a record 40c and the first ever red extreme heat warning being issued, the regional leader has spoken out about the duty to keep workers safe.
Working in extreme heat can lead to dehydration, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting, and – in the most extreme cases – loss of consciousness. Outdoor workers are three times more likely to develop skin cancer.
The Metro Mayor has called on employers this week to:
• Allow flexible working with different start and finish times and the chance to work from home where possible.
• Give staff frequent breaks and provide a supply of drinks.
• Keep workplaces cool with fans and to move staff away from windows.
• Sun protection for those working outside
• Temporarily relax workplace dress codes
While there is no law on maximum working temperatures, during working hours the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be ‘reasonable’.
Adapting to the more frequent and higher temperatures makes good sense both for workers and employers alike. With both a climate and cost of living crisis the UK needs political leadership and drive from Government, not just regional leaders.