Laing O’Rourke, Mace and Wates all issue fresh advice as record-breaking highs due to hit on Monday

Some of the country’s biggest contractors have begun issuing updated advice for those working on sites next week with the UK set to endure record-breaking temperatures in the coming days.

The government has issued the first ever national emergency red alert for heat for the first two days of next week.

The UK Health Security Agency increased the “heat-health warning” alert for England to level 4 – the highest possible – for Monday and Tuesday, with the Met Office forecasting a temperature on Monday of 40C for the first time.


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The UK is set to set to see record-breaking temperatures next week

A red alert means a “national emergency” and is issued “when a heatwave is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups.”

“Exceptional, perhaps record-breaking temperatures are likely early next week,” Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said, predicting a 50% chance temperatures will hit 40C and an 80% chance a new maximum temperature is reached. The hottest areas are set to be central and eastern England.

The highest recorded temperature in the UK is 38.7C which was reached in Cambridge in July 2019 and Penny Endersby, the Met Office chief executive, said the forecast heat for next week was “absolutely unprecedented”.

A Laing O’Rourke spokesperson said: “Our project leaders will assess their sites to ascertain what actions may be required to keep our people safe in unprecedented levels of heat.

”Some of the actions will include, making sure people are taking regular breaks and staying hydrated. All our project sites provide water stations, and we’ll be making sure that we provide enough water to people throughout the site. We also provide sunscreen in the welfare areas for our on site teams and have stressed the importance of using this protection.

“Wherever possible, we’ll prioritise those tasks that can be undertaken in cooler, shaded areas and as temperatures are monitored, we will assess if any work needs to be temporarily halted. The actions will vary depending on the nature of the site and our project leaders will focus on the safety of their teams, adapting work as necessary.”

Mace group health and safety director Andrew Brown said: “Due to the forecasted unusually extreme temperatures next week in parts of the UK, we have issued a comprehensive guide on how our projects, employees and supply chain partners can stay safe and well. This includes advice on sun safety, hydration, ill health awareness and emergency action and skin cancer awareness.

“All of our site teams will be briefed on the importance of managing the risk from the extreme heat, staying hydrated and looking out for each other.”

Earlier this week, Bam updated its guidance ahead of the forecasted heatwave and the firm has since been reminding site teams about what to do which include making sure there is an adequate supply of drinking water and that those working outside take steps to reduce the risk of UV radiation. “Further bulletins will follow next week,” a spokesperson added.

And a Wates spokesperson said: “Following the Met Office warning, we are reminding our teams to revisit the existing safety guidance we provide, particularly in relation to ensuring that colleagues know the signs of heat exhaustion and that they keep well hydrated.”

ISG has also sent out fresh guidance to its sites telling workers to drink plenty of water, use high factor sunscreen and carry out more strenuous work during the cooler parts of the day. It has also told site managers to “be flexible and allow workers to take frequent and regular breaks”.

The chief executive of trade body CECA, Alasdair Reisner, said: “CECA is in the process of preparing advice to members in relation to the expected extreme heat event next week. We aim to circulate this to members over the weekend. Our advice will be based on that found on the HSE website.”

Forecasters are predicting a peak of 38C on Tuesday before cooler air moves and temperatures fall to the mid-20s from Wednesday.