Workplaces should be kept “at a reasonable temperature”
UK: The HSE has warned UK employers that, while there is no maximum workplace temperature, they must ensure that indoor workplaces remain “at a reasonable temperature”.
With a UK heatwave warning in place until Tuesday (19 July), the HSE is reminding employers of their legal duty to ensure employees can work in reasonable temperatures in indoor workplaces and manage the risk of working outdoors in hot environments.
The HSE admits that what is reasonable varies and will depend upon the nature of the individual workplace.
“There is no maximum temperature for workplaces,” the workplace regulator says, “But all workers are entitled to an environment where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Heat is classed as a hazard and comes with legal obligations like any other hazard.”
The TUC has also urged employers to make sure their staff are protected from the sun and heat. Amongst a number of suggestions, including working from home and relaxing dress codes, the trades union body suggests employers should consider installing “ventilation or air-cooling”.
“Employers have a duty to keep the temperature at a comfortable level and provide clean and fresh air,” the TUC says.
It calls for a change in the law so that employers must attempt to reduce temperatures if they get above 24ºC and has also repeated calls for the government to introduce a new absolute maximum indoor temperature of 30ºC – or 27ºC for those doing strenuous jobs – to indicate when work should stop.