Last reviewed on 22/11/2012 14:59

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Temperature at work

Remember Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'? He made it impossible for his staff to work properly by refusing to light a fire in the office in the depths of winter.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that during working hours, the temperature in all internal workplaces must be 'reasonable'.

In addition, the method of heating or cooling the workplace should not result in the escape of 'fumes gas or vapour of such character and to such extent that they are likely to be injurious or offensive to any person'.

There should be enough thermometers available to allow employees to check the temperature in the area in which they are working.

Regulating temperature

A working area should normally have a temperature of at least 16°C, unless much of the work involves severe physical effort, in which case the temperature should be at least 13°C. These temperatures may not, however, ensure reasonable comfort depending on other factors such as air movement and relative humidity.

In places where the temperature would otherwise be uncomfortably high or low (for example, because of the working processes or the design of the building itself), all reasonable steps to achieve an acceptably comfortable temperature should be taken. Some of the things that you could do are:

  • insulate hot pipes
  • provide air-cooling equipment (e.g. portable air-conditioners)
  • shade windows
  • position workstations away from places subject to radiant heat
  • provide insulated duckboards, flooring or special footwear where workers have to stand on a cold floor for long periods
  • install self-closing doors to help keep out draughts.

Safeguarding against temperature

If workers are still exposed to excessive temperatures that do not give reasonable comfort, suitable protective clothing and rest facilities should be made available.

Where possible, the work should be planned in such a way (e.g. by rotating tasks) that individual workers are only exposed to these uncomfortable temperatures for a limited period of time.


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