24 August 2015
How Hot is Too Hot? What is a Reasonable Workplace Temperature?
We know that it is an employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business.
But what do employers have to do if it gets too hot? Can they do anything about the heat? How hot is too hot to reasonably be expected to carry out your work duties?
Regulation 7 of The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 has this to say about the temperature in indoor workplaces:
“During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.”
What exactly is a reasonable temperature in UK law? Would it be possible to make a health and safety at work claim based around the temperature in your office? Unreasonable upper working temperatures have not been defined in UK law. There is no guidance for maximum temperatures in the workplace; however, we can make some logical assumptions.
The temperature must be taken in context. In the UK, temperatures can rise to between 30 and 33 degrees in the summer. It is therefore not unreasonable to expect internal temperatures to reach this level during unusually hot summer days. Unusual is the key word here. Seeing as businesses with non-climate controlled environments are not required to shut down during hot summers, we can assume that an office that rises to 30 degrees in the heat for a very limited period of time probably doesn’t breach UK regulations on workplace temperature.
Clearly what is deemed reasonable will also depend on the type of work that is taking place and for how long the exposure lasts. It is much more likely you could prove a temperature of 35-40 degrees to be unreasonable for a factory worker carrying out heavy manual tasks whilst wearing protective equipment than an office worker carrying out relatively light admin type tasks.
What Can Employers do to Control Working Temperatures?
There are a number of different ways that employers can ensure their employees get to work in an environment with fresh air and sufficient circulation.
1. Install an effective air control system.
2. Buy fans.
3. Open windows.
We do not usually have extremely hot weather in the UK. This is one of the reasons why Regulation 7 has not been elaborated upon so far and a ‘reasonable temperature’ for work in the UK has yet to be defined.
Most work accident injury claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK are funded through No Win, No Fee agreements. This means no financial risk to you.
If you have fainted due to excessive work temperatures or sustained an injury because your employer has breached health and safety regulations you can call us anytime on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online. We will advise you on how successful you claim is expected to be.