UK: With temperatures set to hit 30°C in parts of the UK today, the trade union body TUC is calling for regular air conditioning maintenance.
Amongst a range of recommendations to keep workers cool, the TUC has called on employers to install air conditioning and maintain it regularly, so that it doesn’t break down during a heatwave.
The TUC points out that, in the UK, while there is a legal limit below which workplace temperatures should not fall (16°C), there is no upper limit.
For many years the TUC has been pushing for a change in safety regulations to introduce a new maximum temperature of 30°C – or 27°C for those doing strenuous work – with employers obliged to adopt cooling measures when the workplace temperature hits 24°C.
This week employers can help their staff by allowing them to leave their more formal office attire at home, says the TUC, as the most simple way for staff to keep cool inside when it’s scorching outside is for them to be able to come to work in more casual clothing.
The union group also insists that bosses who provide cool and comfortable work environments will get more out of their staff when it’s sweltering. Workers who are unable to dress in cool summer clothing and who work where there is no air conditioning, fans or cold drinking water will feel lethargic, and lack inspiration and creativity.
“Extreme heat can be as unpleasant to work in as extreme cold, and so long as the UK has no legal maximum working temperature, many workers will be working in conditions that are not just personally unpleasant, but will also be affecting their productivity,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady
“With temperatures set to soar this week, now is the time for employers to relax the dress code rules temporarily and allow their staff to dress down. Making sure that everyone has access to fans, portable air conditioning units and cold drinking water should help reduce the heat in offices, factories, shops, hospitals, schools and other workplaces across the country.”