Warm weather working and Coronavirus

30 Jul 2020

With temperatures set to rise over the summer, guidance has been issued for keeping workplaces cool but also safe.

Whether you are working in your usual workplace or working from home, it is important to understand the measures that your employer should take, and what you can do, to protect yourself from the effects of high temperatures while also preventing the spread of coronavirus.

In the workplace

General ventilation

Employers must, by law, ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace and good ventilation can help reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading.

Where possible, you should look at ways to increase the supply of fresh air to your workplace, for example by opening windows and doors (except fire doors).

You can also improve the circulation of air by using ceiling fans or desk fans, but this should be in conjunction with good ventilation.

Air conditioning

The risk of air conditioning spreading coronavirus is extremely low as long as there is an adequate supply of fresh air and ventilation.

You can continue using most types of air conditioning systems as normal, but it is recommended that you turn off recirculation and use a fresh air supply.

If you’re unsure, speak to your heating and air conditioning engineer or maintenance contractor.

Working from home

If you are working from home you also need to protect yourself against the risks of high temperatures.

Think about how you might be able to keep your home cool:

  • shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight
  • move to a cooler part of the house, especially for sleeping
  • it may be cooler outside in the shade; think about spending some time outdoors
  • open windows when the air feels cooler outside than inside. Try to get air flowing through the home.
  • turn off lights or electrical equipment that you’re not using, as these can increase the temperature of your home.

Some symptoms of heat-related illnesses, such as a high temperature, headache, loss of appetite, dizziness or shortness of breath can be similar to symptoms of COVID-19. If you or someone else feels unwell during hot weather, you should consider the possibility of heat-related illnesses. If, however, you suspect that you have COVID-19 you should find out how to get tested.

More information can be found on the HSE , Public Health England and NHS websites.

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