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I work in fast food, and after speaking to a lot of my colleagues I've found that I'm not the only one at work who feels it is too hot. We do have air conditioning, but the managers all admit it does not work.

I've asked many times to be put on a cooler station, such as by the window or door, but they keep sticking me in the hottest places. I do not work in the kitchen, so I can only imagine the discomfort they have.

I go through 2 cans of spray and 3 roll on deodorants a week to keep myself fresh, otherwise I get in trouble for the smell.

I feel I'm being treated wrongly, and no one else there is making a stand, I have mentioned this a few times, but my boss does nothing.

This week alone, 2 employees have been sent home after throwing up due to heat, 2 have fainted from the heat, and many call in sick from heat exhaustion after doing a shift the day before.

What can I do? Can I report the heat conditions? Is there any other action I can take.

As it is fast food, I obviously can't bring a fan into work, so please, I hope someone can help me here.

  • Are you working at a larger chain fast food outlet? Can you approach HR? – Jane S Jul 1 '15 at 21:51
  • I am, however I work in a franchisee owned by an individual, and I have no way of contacting him – Anonymous due to contract Jul 1 '15 at 21:54
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    You work in fast food but not in the kitchen and people are fainting from the heat? If the restaurant is that hot, surely it is putting off customers. It seems likely that you're losing customers because they're not going to come enjoy a meal in a sauna. Beyond that, you'd probably be looking at reporting the employer to whatever workplace safety bureau your state/ country/ etc. has (OSHA in the US osha.gov) – Justin Cave Jul 1 '15 at 22:07
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    Depending on the jurisdiction there may be laws that apply. Canada's Federal regulations for food preparation workers specify 18°C min./29°C max. (that's about 84°F max). Workers also have the right to refuse to work in dangerous conditions. But reporting your employer should not be your first or even second step. – Spehro Pefhany Jul 1 '15 at 22:17
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    @Anonymousduetocontract I would be curious to hear what you decided to do and if you were able to make any changes happen. – David K Jul 8 '15 at 20:10
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Yes, you need to act on this. If people are fainting and being sent home from heat exhaustion, then that is a safety concern that needs to be addressed immediately. If you want to give your manager one last shot at fixing this, then go to them with your concerns for the safety of the group, not that you think you are being treated unfairly. However, certainly don't feel bad about skipping this step and going straight to someone higher.

You can try contacting the franchise owner, but that may not have any more effect. The corporate HR should also have a phone number you can call. In either case state that the working conditions are unsafe and illegal - those words should scare someone into taking some action quickly in the hopes of avoiding a lawsuit.

As @DJClaworth suggested, if you are a member of a union, talk to them too. The primary purpose of unions is to advocate for workers' rights, and the right to a safe work environment is certainly one of them.

You can also go to the authorities. In the United States, you can file a complaint through OSHA, and other countries have similar organizations. I recommend a phone call rather than a webform, because it often results in a quicker response. Also know that if your employer does learn it was you who reported them, you do have protections.

Please don't wait. People have been getting sick already; it's only a matter of time before something worse happens.

  • This is, in my opinion, the only way to proceed. You can try talking to your boss, but they likely don't care (or they would have fixed it already). If you talk to your boss and then lodge a complaint, they'll probably know it was you. OSHA claims to be confidential, just be prepared for someone at your workplace to find out it was you that reported them. It's unlikely they'll get your name, but have a back up just in case. – 404usernotfound Jul 2 '15 at 13:29
  • @404usernotfound Good point. I added a link to whistleblower rights and protections. – David K Jul 2 '15 at 13:36

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