Top tips: Protecting your staff and customers in hot weather

By Perry Scott Nash

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Temperature

The hot weather is great for most pubs, but brings health risks
The hot weather is great for most pubs, but brings health risks
Whilst Britain is enjoying soaring temperatures, it’s a sad fact that with the glorious weather comes great health risks. For staff, a long day inside serving hot food from a stuffy kitchen can present a number of health risks. Equally, for some customers sitting in the sunshine may seem like a treat but can be problematic. Here are some top tips on how to control the risks.

Extreme temperatures include 32o​C and above, causing heat stress, heat strokes, dehydration, excessive rise in body temperature, excessive sweating and loss of concentration. Not to mention sunburn!

Symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, thirst and dizziness, with occasional headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and fainting can occur, all of which are potentially hazardous and down right unpleasant in the workplace.

Fainting is particularly common, because of the increased blood flow, which sometimes causes the blood to pool in the extremities, rather than returning to the brain.

In some cases, heat stroke can be fatal unless promptly and adequately treated. Symptoms include confusion, loss of consciousness, convulsions and coma. The skin is hot and dry, temperature rises to 40°C, the pulse is rapid and blood pressure falls.

How should you control these risks?

  • Anyone suffering from heat stress should be moved to a cool, shaded area and immediately given water.
  • Some employees are more likely to have problems with working in excessively hot conditions than others. Younger employees and those more physically fit are often less likely to have problems.
    Employees with heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes and those on medications are more likely to experience heat stress problems. Diet pills, certain types of tranquillisers, caffeinated drinks and excessive alcohol consumption can all exacerbate heat stress effects.
  • Pregnant employees should also take care when working in hot environments, and pregnant customers should be seated in a cool, shaded area with a breeze or near a fan. There is a possibility of complications with the pregnancy if the body temperature exceeds 39°C for prolonged periods of time.
  • Avoid going outside during the hottest part of the day, ie. between 11.00am and 3.00pm.
  • When outside, advise staff to wear hats and apply a high factor sun cream. Ensure customers are seated in the shade as much as possible. Staff should be permitted to wear suitable vest tops or T-shirts, preferably manufactured from cotton or other breathable material.
  • Promote age-appropriate water play for children’s play areas if possible.
  • Ensure a continuous supply of drinking water is available for all, and clearly displayed.
  • Pull down the blinds to reduce solar gain.
  • Open windows – refer also to any site-specific risk assessment regarding open windows
  • Ensure that your workforce has been trained to recognise the symptoms of heat stress and what they can do to help themselves, as well as knowing the basic first aid principles should they encounter a colleague or customer who has collapsed due to heat stress.

Article courtesy of health and safety consultants Perry Scott Nash.

Related topics: Training

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