Advice for working during a heatwave in theatres & outdoor theatre spaces

Working in a heatwave or high temperatures

Health and Safety Legislation does not state any maximum indoor or outdoor temperatures for work - but we are working to change that. We believe that 27 degrees should be the cut-off for strenuous work – like performing a number in a musical in full costume. Alongside the TUC, we are calling for 30 degrees to be the absolute limit for work.

Below you can find advice for working in high temperatures and find out why we’re calling for a maximum working temperature.

Circumstances for safe working are currently considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Equity's 10 practical steps for members working in a heatwave

  1. Open a discussion with your engager to talk about the needs of your Company.

  2. Report immediately if you start to feel unwell - heat related exhaustion and illness is very serious and can escalate quickly.

  3. Stay hydrated. A regular safe supply of cool water should be provided.

  4. To reduce heat on stage, ask if it’s possible to minimise when the lighting rig is on before and after performances whenever practicable.

  5. Performers and backstage workers in costume should open a discussion with the wardrobe department and designer about what can be done to reduce the weight and warmth of costumes. Take advantage of any breaks in action to take layers off.

  6. Ask for strenuous choreography to be modified especially if there are company members starting to feel unwell.

  7. Ask to structure rehearsals as much as practicable to avoid working (or at least strenuous physical work such as dance calls) in the strongest heat of the day. Persons involved in scheduling should minimise call times for those required to be in hot spaces and/or in costume.

  8. For indoor spaces, ask a member of non-show venue staff if they could assist by turning on ventilation systems in the morning instead of waiting until the show staff arrive. If ventilation systems are not available ask for fans or temporary air conditioning units to be installed.

  9. For outdoor spaces, whenever possible stay out of direct sunlight and find shaded areas. Keep key parts of the body cool such as your wrists, feet and backs of the knees and neck. Always remember to wear sun cream and apply regularly.

  10. If you feel it will be too dangerous to work, please contact your Equity Official for support and advice.

Theatre Safety Committee guidance

Equity is part of the Theatre Safety Committee, which has published guidance for working during hot weather


Guidance for working during hot weather

  • PDF
  • 0.11MB

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