Temperature in the workplace
The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers publish guidance on workplace temperature but their design criteria are intended to cover 80 percent of the year - which means by default that one day in five is going to be outside the criteria.
The following text is taken from an HSE (Health and Safety Executive) Press Release (E139:99) issued on 30th July 1999;
HOT AND BOTHERED? ... KEEP YOUR COOL!
Rising temperatures make people at work feel uncomfortable, so it makes sense for employers to ensure workers are cool and comfortable during hot weather, says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
New simple guidance from HSE, published today, offers employers practical advice on how to ensure reasonably comfortable working temperatures (thermal comfort) for their employees during both hot and cold weather.
The new publication supplements the current Approved Code of Practice
and guidance which accompanies the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare)
Regulations 1992. It contains sections explaining:
The guidance also includes some simple practical steps that employers can take to ensure reasonable comfort during either hot or cold weather.
During hot weather, these can be as simple as:
In cold weather, the guidance reminds employers to provide adequate heating; to reduce exposure by separating cold areas from those where people work; and to introduce appropriate working practices and systems. All common sense, one might think, but these measures can make all the difference between a comfortable working environment and one which is uncomfortable, stressful and possibly harmful.
The new guidance does not suggest a maximum workplace temperature but reminds employers of their responsibility for assessing risks to their employees' health, safety and welfare, including the effects of heat, high temperatures and hot weather.
HSE inspectors and local authority enforcement officers will look to employers to be proactive in complying with the law relating to temperature in the workplace and to take prompt action to ensure reasonable comfort in indoor workplaces.
Copies of 'Thermal comfort in the workplace - guidance for employers' (ref. HSG194) are available from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 6FS or through good booksellers. ISBN 0 7176 2468 4, price £3.50.
Notes to Editors
1. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 sets out employers' general duties of care towards their employees and members of the public and employees' duties to themselves and others. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 require employers to carry out risk assessments, which should identify hazards relating to work activities, including temperature.
2. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 cover a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues such as heating, lighting, workstations, seating and welfare facilities. The Regulations also cover temperature and related thermal comfort issues, such as ventilation. For further details see Workplace, health, safety and welfare: Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 Approved Code of Practice and Guidance on Regulations [Ref. L24]. ISBN 0 7176 0413 6, price £5.00.
3. The Workplace Regulations do not specify a minimum
or maximum indoor workplace temperature. The Approved Code of Practice
does, however, recommend, the following:
4. No maximum temperature is set in regulation
5. HSE has recently started work on a review of the Approved Code of Practice and guidance to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, as part of the Health and Safety Commission's (HSC's) continuing aim to simplify and clarify the regulatory framework to make it more effective. The review is still at an early planning stage within HSE. HSC has assured the TUC and other organisations that the issue of thermal comfort will be one of the many issues included in what will be a wide-ranging consultation exercise.
PUBLIC ENQUIRIES: HSE Information Centre, Broad Lane, Sheffield S3 7HQ.