What are the legal maximum and minimum temperatures for indoor workplaces?
There are none. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations require "during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable".
What is reasonable? Are there any guide figures?
The approved code of practice to the regulations identifies temperatures within 'workrooms' - a room where people normally work for more than short periods - should be at least 16ºC, or 13ºC where work involves severe physical effort.
Health and Safety Executive guidance identifies 30ºC as the upper temperature of an acceptable zone of thermal comfort for most people in the UK.
Are there any other factors to consider?
In addition to temperature, relative humidity (moisture content of the air) and ventilation (air movement and changes) will influence people's comfort within the workplace.
Low humidity can result in a dry atmosphere, which can lead to itchy eyes, dry throats. High humidity can make the body's natural reaction of cooling down (sweating) more difficult.
A lack of ventilation can result in workrooms becoming stuffy and air becoming stagnant. Ventilation can be achieved naturally (opening windows) or mechanically.
If there is a temperature or other working environment issue what should I do?
Make Estates aware through the help line on extension 2550.
During the summer months workrooms can become hot and stuffy, particularly those that have opening windows. What can be done during this period?
Simple measures can include:
- Taking short breaks from the environment. Go to a cooler room or outside in the shade.
- Taking on board plenty of water.
- Directing a fan so its breeze is onto your face to provide a cooling sensation.
- Having windows open. If it's possible, leave windows slightly open overnight and at weekends to provide constant ventilation. It is important though not to leave any windows open that could compromise building security.
- Utilising blinds and other window coverings. Leave them closed overnight and at weekends if your workroom gets direct sunlight first thing in the morning or at any point during the day respectively.
- Don't leave equipment such as PC monitors and photocopiers on overnight. These generate lots of heat.
Other methods to help people's comfort are:
- Installing solar reflective film onto windows and solar reflective blinds.
- Positioning desks away from windows that face direct sunlight.