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News

HSE provides guidance on preventing heat stress

HSE InfoLine : 21 August, 2003  (Technical Article)
The Health and Safety Executive has produced a free information sheet on heat stress in the workplace. It explains the risks of overheating when working in hot conditions found in workplaces such as bakeries, compressed air tunnels, foundries and smelting operations. It does not address issues of thermal comfort in the workplace.
The Health and Safety Executive has produced a free information sheet on heat stress in the workplace. It explains the risks of overheating when working in hot conditions found in workplaces such as bakeries, compressed air tunnels, foundries and smelting operations. It does not address issues of thermal comfort in the workplace.

Heat stress in the workplace. What you need to know as an employer explains how the body reacts to heat, describing a typical example of a heat stress situation and its symptoms. It provides examples of workplaces where the environment is most likely to cause the problem and then gives advice on carrying out a risk assessment and how to reduce the risks.

Heat stress occurs when the body's means of controlling its internal temperature starts to fail. As well as air temperature, factors such as work rate, humidity and clothing worn while working may lead to this condition.

Andrew Moore, HSE's technical expert on heat stress, said: 'Heat stress is potentially very serious but it is also preventable. So it's important that people know what it is, can recognise the signs, and have some idea what they can do to reduce the risks. We hope the information sheet provides them with practical help'.

The hot summer months may increase the risks for some people, but in many jobs heat stress is an issue all year round.

For those who want to know more, HSE is currently developing detailed guidance for employers on how to manage and assess the risk of heat stress in their workplace. While developing this guidance HSE will be consulting externally and would welcome hearing from those who would like to be involved. They should contact Andrew Moore andrew.pg.moore@hse.gsi.gov.uk

For information on thermal comfort in the workplace, see HSE's publication Thermal comfort in the workplace: Guidance for employers. HSG 194.
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