Is it Too Hot to Work? Temperatures in the Workplace

Is it too hot to work?  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 stick to health and safety at work law, 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 (heat that radiates from a warm object)
  • Air velocity (speed of moving air)
  • Humidity (water in the air)
  • Clothing insulation (too much clothing)
  • Metabolic heat (work rate / physical work)

Employees should talk to their employer if the workplace temperature isn’t comfortable.

What you can do to feel more comfortable:

  • Add or remove layers of clothing depending on how hot or cold you are
  • Use a desk or pedestal fan to increase air movement
  • Use window blinds (if available) to cut down on the heating effects of the sun
  • In warm situations, 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 in warm situations and heat up in cold situations
  • Raise the issue with your managers or, if you can, with your union or other workplace representatives

Although any of the actions outlined above may go some way to alleviating your thermal discomfort, there are also a number of things that your manager or employer could do to help further.  Talk to your manager, supervisor, union representative or employee representative about:

  • Where possible ensuring windows that open, fans are provided to promote local cooling and radiators can be switched off or air conditioning units are maintained
  • Introducing work systems to limit exposure, such as flexible hours or early/late starts to help avoid the worst effects of working in high temperatures
  • Relaxing formal dress codes
  • Insulating hot plant or pipes
  • Moving workstations away from hot plant or out of direct sunlight
  • Including assessments of thermal risk as part of workplace risk assessments

If you would like further advice please don’t hesitate to contact Epica Health & Safety