Is it Too Hot to Work? Temperature in the Workplace
- Date: Monday 23rd July 2018
- PDF: Download
In offices or similar environments, the temperature in workplaces must be reasonable.
There’s no law for maximum working temperature, or when it’s too hot to work.
Employers must endeavour to comply with general welfare requirements, including:
- Keeping the temperature at a comfortable level, sometimes known as thermal comfort
- Providing clean and fresh air
There are six basic factors which usually cause discomfort:
- Air temperature
- Radiant temperature
- Air velocity
- Clothing insulation
- Metabolic heat
Employees should talk to their employer if the workplace temperature isn’t comfortable.
What can you do?
There are a number of things employees can do to improve thermal comfort in the workplace:
- Remove layers of clothing
- Use a desk or pedestal fan to increase air movement
- Use window blinds to cut down on the heating effects of the sun
- Drink plenty of water - avoid caffeinated or carbonated drinks
- If possible, work away from direct sunlight or sources of radiant heat
- Take regular breaks to cool down
- Raise the issue with management or union or other workplace representatives
Although any of the actions outlined above may go some way to alleviating thermal discomfort, there are also a number of things that employers can do to help further.
- Where possible ensure windows can open
- Provide fans to promote local cooling and switch off radiators
- Maintain air conditioning units in good working order to ensure efficient cooling
- Introduce work systems to limit exposure, such as flexible hours or early/late starts to help avoid the worst effects of working in high temperatures
- Relax formal dress codes
- Insulate hot plant or pipes
- Move workstations away from hot plant or out of direct sunlight
- Include assessments of thermal risk as part of workplace risk assessments
If your job involves extreme temperatures
In some workplaces extreme temperatures are not seasonal but are created by the work. These temperatures can lead to serious health effects if not managed effectively.
Specific advice regarding heat stress, dehydration or cold stress should be sought if working in very high or low temperatures. Further guidance can be found on the HSE website.