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BOSSES must act to protect outdoor workers from the dangerous effects of adverse weather conditions, retail staff demanded today.
Usdaw delegates, gathered in Blackpool for the retail union’s 2023 annual delegate meeting, unanimously backed a motion which called for a right to breaks when temperatures plunge or soar.
Moving the proposition, Paisley and Inverclyde member Anne Will warned that she and her colleagues are constantly forced to ask their employers for respite from extreme weather when breaks in such circumstances should be an “automatic process.”
Union deputy general secretary Dave McCrossen backed the call, stressing: “Our members’ safety at work is an absolute priority and our approach to keeping members safe must be tailored to the work that they are doing.
“Getting cold and wet doesn’t just make you feel miserable, it can affect your rational thinking and productivity — this can increase the chance of accidents happening.
“For people handling machinery or working around vehicles, a loss of concentration can be very dangerous.
“Working in very high temperatures causes risks too, including heat exhaustion, dehydration, heat stroke, skin damage and even skin cancer.”
He reminded bosses of their legal right to identify potential risks in the workplace and encouraged them to provide appropriate outdoor clothing and the right personal protective equipment.
“But on its own, this isn’t enough,” he stressed. “People working outside need time indoors to dry out and warm up in winter, or to cool down in summer.
“This is recommended by the Health and Safety Executive as a simple action employers can take — every worker must be kept safe.”
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