An Essential Guide to Managing Workplace Temperature | Wirehouse
Date: 13th June 2018 | Categories: Health and Safety
Too hot to work? We have recently seen temperatures rise but what does this mean for businesses when temperatures are starting to peak towards the 30°C mark? There is currently no legal upper temperature limit as there are a number of environments where people have to work in hot temperatures for example bakeries and glass works. It would therefore not be practicable to put in place a set workplace temperature across the broad of industries in the UK.
What are the Statutory Obligations?
Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, Section 7 (1) states during;
“working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable”
As part of your Risk Assessment and your legal duties under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 you should regularly assess workplace temperatures and identify control measures to reduce the impact of heat stress as so far as is reasonably practicable.
How Can I Reduce the Risks?
Working in hot temperatures can make us feel tired and have a lack of concentration, which can lead to accidents or mistakes happening at work. It has been reported that an acceptable level of comfort is between 16°C to 24°C and therefore, where practicable employers should attempt to reduce the temperature between these levels.
The safety principals still apply when controlling the risk to heat stress through the use of your hierarchy of controls to reduce the risk so far as is ‘reasonably practicable’ remembering that reasonably practicable is defined as the time, effort and cost balanced against the risk. It would not be reasonable for example, for a small company who employs 5 employees to spend thousands of pounds on an installed air conditioning system but it would be reasonably practicable if the company had 35 employees and had a large annual turnover.
The types of control measures to reduce the risk of heat stress in the workplace include the following:
- Installation of an air conditioning unit (portable ones are available) or implement the use of fans.
- Ensure that your employees are drinking plenty of fluids and that they have access to drinking water and encourage them to wear lighter clothing in the warmer months.
- Take into account your employees work rate especially those in roles which require strenuous activity when temperatures start to climb.
- Some companies even purchase ice creams for their employees to help them cool down on a hot day.
As part of your duties under section 7 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 you must have a sufficient number of thermometers to record the workplace temperature. If you have several employees reporting that it is too hot then the temperature may be unreasonable and you must do something about it. Remember, that how we respond to heat can also depend on the weight and age of a person.
You should also remember that air temperature is only a rough guide because humidity, wind speed, radiant heat sources, clothing, etc. all have an effect, which an ordinary thermometer will not take into account.
To conclude, Wirehouse can provide guidance and advice about helping to control workplace temperatures. As an employer you have a legal duty to ensure that the workplace temperature is comfortable for employees to work in to ensure that they are working safely.
Contact our Health and Safety experts today to see how we can support your business.
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