A productive workforce is a happy team, and so it pays to make sure their working conditions are comfortable. As an employer, it’s important to ensure that the workplace is not hot and stuffy in the summer, and nor will they want to be cold or in draughty rooms in winter;
The Health and Safety Executive, Great Britain’s independent regulator for work-related health, says that there are not actually any minimum or maximum temperatures set in law. A maximum temperature would also be difficult to impose because some people work in high temperatures, such as those found in foundries or glass works.
Other factors such as radiant temperature, humidity and air velocity come into play.
However, the HSE does say that the temperature in a workroom should be at least 16º or 13º if much of the work is tough and physical.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 says that the temperature of work areas inside buildings should be ‘reasonable’. Obviously, this is going to vary depending on whether you work in an office, a warehouse, a factory, a bakery or a cold store.
The simplest way to measure thermal comfort, according to an article on the HSE website, is to ask your employees or their safety representatives if they feel the temperature is right.
There is a thermal comfort checklist, which you can download here that includes a range of questions such as whether the air feels warm or hot, whether the temperature changes during a normal working day and whether employees complain that the air is too dry or too humid.
Problems can be rectified by humidifying or dehumidifying the air, increasing air movement by use of ventilation or air conditioning or restricting the amount of time that employees are working in conditions that are too hot or too cold.
If a comfortable temperature cannot be maintained in each room because of the type of work conducted there, then local heating can be installed.
There should also be enough space in each room for the employees and their work stations. Employers also need to make sure their heating systems do not give off dangerous or unpleasant fumes.
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Maintenance of the heating system is also very important, as a breakdown and lack of heating would be very unpleasant for employees while they are trying to work. Choosing a central heating pump from Pump Sales Direct means there is no downtime because we have such an extensive range.
Obviously, in very bad weather in winter you may want to think about closing the workplace if the roads are icy or flooded or severe gales are forecast.
Although there is no obligation to do so, you may not want to risk your employees’ safety if they try to travel in extreme weather conditions.
Some employees may be able to work from home, or you could ask them to take a holiday or make up the time later. You could also put in an extreme weather policy so workers are clear about when they are and are not expected to make the effort to get to work.