It doesn’t happen all too often in the UK, but when there is a heatwave, it hits us hard. Unfortunately, when working on site, the heat can seem even more unbearable, especially if you find yourself working in a confined space such as a lift shaft. On top of that, the heat can also affect the function of lifts, especially in the motor room for example, if the temperature soars. In this blog we focus on how to keep engineers cool during a heatwave.
An employer’s duty
As an employer, it is your duty to protect the health and safety of your employees, including taking measures during adverse weather conditions. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 requires employers to provide a reasonable indoor temperature in the workplace. While this does depend on the work activity and environmental conditions, according to the HSE you must:
- Assess the risk
- Act on any findings by putting controls in place
- Use HSE’s heat stress checklist* if your workers are at risk from extreme temperatures.
Additionally, if your employees are uncomfortable and are struggling to carry out their work talk to them and agree on the actions that will help them get through the day.
Employers working on lift installations and maintenance jobs will use up more energy as opposed to your average office worker, so there is more chance they can become dehydrated. Encourage your engineers to drink fluids regularly to keep them hydrated. Regular breaks to help them cool down and refuel will also help them work more efficiently during a heatwave.
Flexible working hours
If possible, introduce flexible working hours that allow engineers to start earlier when temperatures are lower and buildings are therefore cooler. While this might not always be possible, working early or even later in the day can avoid the peak time during middle of the day when the heat is at its highest.
Lift shaft ventilation
While the European standards EN81-20 and EN81-50 state that lift shaft ventilation is the responsibility of the building designer, the lift manufacturer must provide all the necessary information about, for example, the heat emissions of lift components. This approach facilitates energy efficient building design, where ventilation requirements are determined based on the most energy-efficient solution, while at the same time taking into account working conditions for engineers working in the lift shaft. Even with this information provided by the lift manufacturer, if your staff are working on site, it is wise to check the ventilation system is operating as it should during a heatwave to ensure humidity levels do not become unbearable.
The safety of staff should be a top priority, and even more so during the hot weather. While the right PPE should be worn to protect engineers in their environment, too much workwear could cause them to feel very uncomfortable. It is therefore important that clothing is both compliant with safety standards while being cool enough to protect employees and give them freedom of movement. Items that are light and breathable will help during the warmer months.