Welfare at Work – Your Questions

Last reviewed on 21/11/2012 11:54

Question: What are the maximum and minimum temperatures for the workplace?

A: The recommended minimum temperature for indoor workplaces is 16°C, or 13°C where the work requires a lot of physical effort.

There is no recommended maximum temperature.

The Approved Code of Practice for the Workplace Regulations says that the temperature in all workrooms inside buildings shall be reasonably comfortable during working hours without the need to wear special clothing.

The Health and Safety Executive guide to thermal comfort in the workplace says most people are comfortable between 13°C (56°F) and 30°C (86°F).

However, depending on the nature of the work people could suffer at the upper and lower limits.

Factors such as air movement and relative humidity also affect comfort.

→ Read more on Welfare at Work

Question: My office will be without water today, should we still be at work?

A: This depends on a number of factors including whether it is a scheduled interruption or an emergency such as a burst water main, the time the water will be unavailable, the number of staff and whether good hygiene can be maintained.

Consider whether you are able to arrange temporary facilities or use alternative facilities on other nearby premises. This is acceptable as a temporary measure, provided they are nearby and adequate for the number of people involved.

If there is a storage tank that means that hot water can still be provided for hand-washing, etc. and cold water to refill toilet cisterns, it may be okay to continue working while there is still a supply of water. You may need to provide bottled water for drinking if drinking water is not available from the main supply.

If there are not enough toilet facilities and hot and cold water for the number of people present, consider sending most of the staff home and keep a presence in the building.

Those still at work could use dispensers for water, kettles to heat water and use the available toilets until they have all been used. Make sure all toilets are flushed and cleaned when the water comes back on.

→ Read more on Welfare at Work

Question: What health and safety issues should I look out for when renting new premises?

A: You should make sure the premises meet the basic requirements for Health, Safety and Welfare. Is there adequate space, heating, lighting, ventilation and welfare facilities for your needs?

Some other issues may depend on whether the premises are shared or not and will determine whether you need to consult with the other tenants of the premises on issues of mutual concern.

It’s important to get full details of what you have responsibility for and what are the landlord’s responsibilities. The terms of your rental or lease agreement should outline whether you or the landlord have responsibility for any adaptations, repairs and maintenance.

Other things you might need to consider are:

  • What are the fire safety arrangements like for the premises, has a fire risk assessment been carried out and what, if any, changes will be required when you begin to use the premises?
  • Is there an asbestos register that highlights whether there is asbestos present? This could be important if there is any maintenance required.
  • Have the gas and electrical systems been inspected and maintained?

You may have other specific concerns about the suitability of the premises to carry out the type of work you do.

For example:

  • Is there adequate traffic segregation for vehicles and pedestrians?
  • Is there adequate storage for your needs?
  • Are the premises secure enough?
  • Will you need to apply for planning consent for a 'change of use' for the premises?

→ Read more on Welfare at Work