If the level of pollution in the air is unsafe, then employees should be told not to come to work unless adequate precautions can be taken (e.g. by providing suitable masks). Particular consideration may need to be given to those with asthma and other breathing difficulties. For advice from the Health and Safety Executive go to www.hse.gov.uk or ring their helpline on 0845 345 0055.

If windows have been blown out and the building cannot be adequately heated, employees may have to be sent home. Under Health and Safety law, the minimum legal temperature is generally 16°C or 13°C for strenuous work.


  • Premises may be so damaged that they are unsafe in other ways (risk of roof falling in, exposed asbestos, etc.). Employees must be kept away from work until the property is safe for them.
  • If the workplace is unsafe, employers can ask employees to work from home. However, the duty to look after employees’ health and safety still applies. If your employees do not normally work at home it is safest not to get them to do so until you have checked that it is practical and that Employer’s Liability insurers will cover you for employees working from home. 

This information was kindly supplied by Julie Gingell of SA Law