Does Your Company Have a Heat Policy? Have You Even Heard of Such a Thing?
If you’ve never heard of a heat policy, you might not think that it
could be relevant to your company. But with
the rapidly evolving world of human rights law, you may need to think again if
your employees, or the workers within your supply chains at home or abroad, operate
in high-temperature environments.
The concept of a heat policy is pretty straightforward. Its purpose is to protect employees who are
working in environments where heat can present a health and safety issue, or
where it can negatively impact employee productivity. This issue can arise in outdoor environments
in certain parts of the world, as well as indoors within facilities that operate
equipment that generates significant heat. A heat policy would be based on an assessment of the specific
circumstances, and might address issues such as working hours (such as to avoid
the hottest parts of the day), shade, hydration, ventilation and rest breaks.
If your company already has a heat policy, it’s likely that these
issues have a direct impact on its workforce. But if it’s not something you have ever considered, it is worth looking
at your foreign and domestic operations, as well as your supply chains, to
consider whether this is something that you should be implementing in certain
locations, or requiring your contractors to put in place. The media focus on health, safety and human
rights in the modern global workforce is exposing serious shortcomings in the
way in which the distant headquarters of large corporations are thinking about
these issues and making sure that appropriate policies and training are
implemented where necessary.
In addition to the serious reputational hit on businesses that are
found to have dropped the ball in ways that result in human suffering, the laws
are catching up, too. Multi-national
businesses are becoming increasingly exposed to legal liabilities in
cross-border litigation. If you’ve never
heard of a heat policy, stop and think about whether that’s a problem that
needs to be fixed.
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