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A guide to workplace temperature rules and regulations

If your office is like a furnace in the summer and an ice box in the winter, you could be breaching government recommendations that are designed to keep your workforce safe and comfortable while they work.

As an employer it is your duty to ensure that your workspace offers the optimal environment for your employees and to ensure their ongoing wellbeing.  You may be familiar with all of the health and safety rules and regulations you need to adhere to, but how much do you really know about workplace temperature rules and regulations in the UK?

As a leading provider of commercial air conditioning in Bristol and across the South West, here are some basic guidelines for you to consider:

 

What does the law say about working temperatures?

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 lay down particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment. Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:

‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’

This means that at the very least, you are required to:

  • Keep the temperature at a comfortable level
  • Providing clean and fresh air

Employers should aim to keep the temperature at around 16°C or a slightly cooler 13°C if much of the work involves rigorous physical effort.  The absence of a maximum figure is due to the fact that some workplaces are expected to operate at high temperaturesall year round, like glass works or foundries for example.

In these kinds of environments it is still possible to work safely provided appropriate controls are present that take into account air temperature and humidity.

 

What is a reasonable temperature?

A reasonable temperature for a workplace depends on work activity and the environmental conditions of the workplace.  Employers should carry out a thermal comfort risk assessment and compile a heat stress checklist in the first instance.  If the results indicate the working temperatures are not within reasonable levels, it is the duty of the employer to implement appropriate controls.  This could mean installing either an air conditioning system, or upgrading or replacing current central heating measures.

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If the workforce is required to wear personal protective equipment, they are more likely to fall victim to heat stress and suffer from the adverse effects of high temperatures.  In this instance, employers should implement further measures including allowing work to take place at a slower rate, rotating staff on a short shift basis and allowing workers to take longer breaks in cooler, air conditioned environments.

 

Why temperature control is so important at work

Working in an office, warehouse or any other workspace that is too hot or too cold can be detrimental to productivity and can lead to dissatisfactionamongst the workforce.  This can be an ongoing inconvenience that could easily be avoided by the implementation of effective cooling or heating measures.

Above and beyond staff inconvenience, a lack of ventilation and conditions that are too hot and too cold can also be dangerous to health. If the office is too hot, staff could be prone to fainting, dehydration, heat stroke or exhaustion, and in cold conditions they could suffer from colds, frostbite and even hypothermia.

 

Commercial air conditioning in Bristol

Ensure productivity, job satisfaction and the ongoing health of your staff by installing a cost-effective, energy efficient air conditioning system in your workplace.  Speak to Total Environmental Kooling today on 0117 952 3355 to see how we can help or use our contact form to receive a quick response.