Soaring temperatures in recent weeks have been somewhat unusual and of an unprecedented scale in the UK. Whilst some unfamiliar and rare sunshine is largely welcomed in the UK, MPs have taken action and called for a maximum limit to workplace temperatures to protect workers’ health in this extreme heat.
At present, there is no current maximum temperature set in the workplace; the only advice in place is for indoor work heating to be “reasonable”.
However, since the recent intense heat wave that was experienced across the UK, 38 MPs have signed an early day motion (EDM) which urges the government to implement legislation. This legislation would be to make certain that employers maintain a steady and reasonable workplace temperature for employees to be safe whilst carrying out their work duties.
For temperatures reaching as high as 30 degrees in most instances, or 27 degrees for workers fulfilling strenuous work, the EDM has called for legislation to be introduced which implements appropriate and effective measures to control the heat, by installing ventilators and ensuring staff are moved away from windows. It is a safety protocol aimed at protecting employees from any adverse impacts on their health from the heat, such as tiredness or heat stroke.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 touch briefly on the issue of workplace temperatures. Employers are required to ensure that internal workplace is reasonable. An Approved Code of Practise also indicates a minimum limit on workplace temperatures of 16 degrees. However, there is no set limit on maximum workplace temperature; possible because no one ever thought it would be needed!
Whilst this being a very new topic of discussion, temperatures continue to rise. It is therefore important for workers to be aware of their rights in the workplace as the hot summer months beckon!