Bectu statement on working in extreme heat

11 July 2022

Employers have a responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that temperatures and environmental conditions do not affect workers’ health and safety. If there is a risk that they will, employers must carry out an assessment of those risks and implement measures to control them.

Melting street thermometer against bright summer sun.High temperature.Summer heat.Concept of global warming.

As the UK continues to experience more extreme weather this will become increasingly important.

While there is no legal maximum workplace temperature in the UK, employers need to ensure that staff can work safely in periods of severe heat.It is usually accepted that people work best at a temperature between 16°C and 24°C, although this can vary depending on the kind of work being done and the environmental conditions in the workplace – factors such as humidity, clothing and heat sources.

Bectu crew working predominately outside or in cramped workspaces may be particularly at risk due to over exposure to the sun or poor ventilation.

Members with health and safety concerns should raise these with heads of department and line producers/unit production managers in the first instance, and should check that workplace risk assessments are being followed. If concerns are not being adequately addressed then please contact your Bectu official.

Further information, resources and training

Further information on what the law says about workplace temperature.

The Health and Safety Executive also has useful information on heat stress and it’s worth reviewing this factsheet from the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance in Australia on working in extreme heat.

If you work in theatres, the Theatre Safety Committee also has guidance on working in hot weather.

Check out the TUC’s Cool It! guide for union activists on dealing with high temperatures at work, and their Hot in Here video. The TUC has also released a new online mini course that gives union reps tools for identifying and fixing extreme working temperature issues in the workplace. Find out more here.

Also take a look at the TUC guidance for how employers can work with their health and safety union reps to introduce measures to protect staff who work outdoors, and 8 steps employers can take to keep work cool.

Bectu National Secretary Spencer MacDonald said:

“With the onset of extreme heat and further heatwaves predicted this summer, employers should ensure they have appropriate measures in place to ensure a safe and healthy working environment. This is particularly pertinent for film and TV productions who are likely to have staff working outside in extreme heat or facing prolonged sun exposure.

“Health and safety at work is paramount. As summers in the UK grow increasingly hotter, it’s important that productions take seriously their duty of care and that they proactively risk assess and do what they can to mitigate the risks of extreme heat, such as providing protection from direct sunlight or supplying sun cream.

“Members working in extreme heat should take care to minimise their exposure and should check that their workplace risk assessments are being followed and raise any concerns with their employer directly. If these are not met then Bectu is here to help.”