Britain's heatwave presents health risk, say environmental health consultants

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Temperature

Temperatures in kitchens can get very hot during the summer
Temperatures in kitchens can get very hot during the summer
Environmental health consultants have warned of the harmful effects of sitting in pub gardens and working in stuffy kitchens.

Perry Scott Nash Associates, an environmental health agency, said Britain’s heat wave – which has seen temperatures of 32o​C and over - could present a number of health risks for customers and those serving hot food in pubs including heat stress, heat strokes, dehydration, excessive rise in body temperature, excessive sweating and loss of concentration.

Symptoms to watch out for include tiredness, weakness, thirst, dizziness and headaches, while nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and fainting can occur.

The consultancy revealed that fainting is particularly common due to increased blood flow in hot weather, which sometimes causes the blood to pool in the extremities rather than returning to the brain.

It also warned that heat stroke can be fatal unless promptly and adequately treated. Symptoms include confusion, loss of consciousness, convulsions and coma, and occurs when the skin is hot and dry – with body temperature rising to 40°C - the pulse is rapid and blood pressure falls.

Perry Scott Nash has given these guidelines for controlling the risks of heat-related illnesses:

  • 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, i.e. between 11.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m.
  • 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.

For more information visit the Perry Scott Nash website.

Related topics: Health & safety

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