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

Health and Safety Legislation states that there is no upper limit of temperature in the workplace. This means you can’t just stop work when it gets really hot. All departments are affected when temperatures are consistently high from performers and stage managers, musicians, wardrobe and technical operators, all of whom have specific needs and ways of improving the uncomfortable conditions.

Equity has compiled these ten practical steps for members:

  1. Open a discussion with your Company Manager, Director, Producer or the building Management to talk about the needs of your Company.
  2. Report if you are feeling 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 like you need additional support and help please contact your Equity Organiser, all contact details can be found on the Equity website.