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Workplace Temperatures

Indoor Workplaces

Within the workplace temperatures are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993, which place a legal obligation on employers to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisr/1993/37/contents/made

 

What is the minimum or maximum working temperatures?

There is no prescribed minimum or maximum working temperatures within health and safety legislation, eg when it is too cold or too hot to work. The Approved Code of Practice which provides guidance on the above “Workplace Regulations” suggests the temperature in a workplace should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius or if work involves rigorous physical effort, the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. However there is no recommended maximum temperature limit within the guidance but various trade union organisations have suggested a maximum of 30 degrees Celsius.

Further guidance on how to protect workers from low or high temperatures is available via the Approved Code of Practice https://www.hseni.gov.uk/publications/l24-workplace-health-safety-and-welfare-gb-acop-approved-use-ni.

What additional steps can employers take where the workplace temperatures are too cold or hot?

Workplace temperatures are too cold:

  • providing adequate workplace heating, eg portable heaters
  • reducing draughts
  • providing sufficient breaks to enable employees to get hot drinks or to warm up in heated areas
  • providing insulating floor coverings or special footwear when employees have to stand for long periods on cold floors
  • reducing cold exposure by designing processes that minimise exposure to cold areas and cold products where possible
  • providing appropriate protective clothing for cold environments
  • introducing formal systems of work to limit exposure, eg flexible working patterns, job rotation

 

Workplace temperatures are too hot:

  • placing insulating materials around hot plant and pipes
  • providing air-cooling or air-conditioning plant
  • shading windows with blinds or by using reflective film on windows
  • siting workstations away from places subject to radiant heat
  • providing fans, eg desk, pedestal or ceiling-mounted fans
  • ensuring that windows can be opened
  • relaxing formal dress code – but you must ensure that personal protective equipment is provided and used if required
  • allowing sufficient breaks to enable employees to get cold drinks or cool down
  • providing additional facilities, eg cold water dispensers
  • introducing formal systems of work to limit exposure, eg flexible working patterns, job rotation, workstation rotation etc

Further information on workplace temperatures can be found at the following:

 

Outdoor working in the sun

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause skin damage including sunburn, blistering, skin ageing and in the long term can lead to skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Northern Ireland with almost 4000 new cases each year and approximately 300 of these cases are malignant melanomas.

UV radiation should be considered an occupational hazard for people who work outdoors. A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged. The damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight.

People with pale skin are most at risk of skin damage, especially those with fair or red hair, with a lot of freckles or with a family history of skin cancer.

Outdoor workers should follow the Health and Safety Executive's  Sun Protection Six-point Code as follows:

  • Keep your top on. Clothing forms a barrier to the sun’s harmful rays – especially tight woven fabrics.
  • Wear a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks and especially at lunch time.
  • Use a high factor suncream of at least SPF15 on any exposed skin.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding.

 

Further guidance and information can be found at the following links: