EDM 344 (18/07/16) "notes that workers in the UK lack adequate legal safeguards from working in uncomfortably high temperatures, owing to the lack of a statutory maximum temperature"; argues that "excessive heat in the workplace . can impact seriously on health, well-being and productivity"; and calls on the Government "to introduce into law a maximum working temperature . beyond which employers would have a statutory duty to introduce effective control measures." The EDM was tabled by Ian Mearns MP (Lab) on 18/07/16 and has been signed by 145 MPs, 74 of whom are Labour.
However, as a frontbench spokesperson I am unable to sign Early Day Motions.
I know that a number of organisations, including several trade unions and the Trades Union Congress (TUC), have campaigned on this issue for a number of years. As the TUC has stated, high temperature is a significant health issue and can cause dizziness, fainting and heat cramps, as well as increasing the risk of heat stroke or collapse. It can also lead to loss of concentration and increased tiredness, making workers more likely to put themselves or others at risk. I therefore agree that this is an important issue.
In 2009, the previous Labour Government asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to review the case for a maximum workplace temperature. While the report that the HSE produced was inconclusive, the then Government stated that it was still actively considering the issue of a maximum temperature. However, in the last Parliament the Coalition Government stated that it had no plans to set a maximum temperature, arguing that a single figure would be inappropriate. The current Government meanwhile argues that existing legislation and guidance on this issue is sufficient.
Workers nevertheless need to be protected against injury, illness and death at work, and workplace health and safety legislation is essential. I therefore believe it is important that we review issues such as workplace temperatures. Prior to the 2015 general election, my Shadow Frontbench colleagues committed to a review of excessive workplace temperatures. I believe that the Government should consider such a review.
In the meantime, I note that employers have a duty under the current regulations to ensure that workplaces remain at a reasonable temperature and to consult with employees and their representatives to establish sensible measures to cope with hot weather.