Temperatures at work

Don’t be frozen out or roasted slowly by your Employer!

There is a need for employers to ensure that during working hours the temperature within all workplaces inside buildings is reasonable and is governed by Regulation 7 of the “Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992” and the associated Approved Code of Practice (ACOP). This means that the employer must provide reasonable comfort within the building without the need for special clothing. 

ACOP states that the minimum temperature for an office environment is 16 degrees Centigrade (60.8 Fahrenheit) and that minimum should be achieved within 1 hour of the start of the working day. If the work is of a more physical nature, this can be as low as 13 degrees Centigrade (55.4 Fahrenheit). A thermometer should be provided so that the temperature can be measured. If this minimum is not achieved, then your employer should be doing everything in their power to ensure that alternative arrangements are made to improve your working environment or move you elsewhere.

Although there is no stated maximum temperature specified in the regulations, there is an acceptable zone for thermal comfort, which lies between 16 & 24 degrees Centigrade. In order to achieve this the employer is required to take reasonable steps to reach a comfortable temperature, such as insulating hot water pipes and equipment, shading windows, siting workstations away from hot areas and using fans and air cooling equipment during hot weather. There is also guidance on humidity and draughts contained within the regulations.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), recommend that maximum air temperature should not exceed 25 degrees Centigrade (77.0 Fahrenheit). These figures can be used when discussing reasonable standards with local management.

For many years now employers have not had a good record in delivering a comfortable working temperature, particularly in buildings that have no air conditioning. With the onset of the summer months it is important that you are aware of the limits set out by governing bodies in this field and that presented by WHO in achieving comfortable working conditions for the employee.

If you do have temperature difficulties in your working area at any time of the year, you are within your rights to remind your line manager of their duty of care to you and others on your group. In the absence of any localised fans or heaters, breaks away from the working area maybe the order of the day in these situations and provision of ample supply of drinking water is advisable.

You should also seek advice and assistance from your branch office if you feel that the temperatures in which you are expected to work are outside those indicated and your manager has failed to do anything about it.

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