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UK heat wave – what does HR need to be aware of?

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19th Jul 2013
Editor HRZone
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Travel disruptions

  • Trains: train tracks can buckle under intense heat, causing delays to services
  • Roads: road surfaces can expand and break up, which can cause severe delays before maintenance services can start repairs
  • Stations: many stations operate at full capacity, which means the added demand of delays can cause havoc
  • Cars and bicycles: both are more likely to suffer faults or problems in hot weather so be prepared – consider a car sharing scheme in advance

Parents

  • School-aged children may be more likely to suffer problems at school, both heat-related and also physical scrapes because they’ll be outside in the playground more
  • All workers may be sleeping badly, but parents may also have to deal with children sleeping badly on top
  • Babies may be more prone to problems and so parents may need to have provisions to work from home if they can’t arrange childcare

Water provisions

  • Offices with water dispensers will need to stock more barrels of water
  • Office plans will need additional watering in hot weather
  • Workers should receive literature and advice regarding staying hydrated in warm weather

Clothing

  • Dress codes should be relaxed to enable employees to keep cool

Temperature control

  • Safe working temperatures are easily maintained most of the year round but during heat waves these will need close monitoring. The Chartered Institute of Building Services and Engineers, for example, recommends offices should be kept at 20 degrees.
  • Fans should be ordered based on employee demand – bear in mind that local stockists may run out
  • IT equipment can be a significant source of heat. Make sure all non-critical equipment is turned off

Concentration and breaks

  • Hot weather can reduce cognitive power and increase the amount of rest needed to function at 100%. Don’t assume employees feel empowered to take additional breaks – encourage them to do so

Customers and clients

  • Provide fresh water to customers and clients who are visiting your property.
  • Ensure all waiting areas are sufficiently cooled to allow them to relax until you’re ready to see them
  • Ensure the marketing and product departments are considering how your products may become more risky to use in hot weather and how you can help mitigate these effects

Anyone have any other tips or ideas for what HR should be doing during heatwaves?

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