The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Safe Office Temperatures

Graham Marshall - Thursday, May 05, 2011

I get asked from time to time to offer advice about office environmental conditions in relation to light, noise, temperature, humidity and such like.

In fact, in my experience over the years, I've noted that complaints about office heating and cooling are a common gripe.

Is it too hot or too cold?

Does the temperature vary too much throughout the day?

Are draughts a problem?

What about humidity levels and air movement?

Under the UK system of law which applies in places like Australia, NZ, Canada and Great Britain, there are general duties within the various applicable Laws to provide a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.

For employers and those "with control of the workplace", this so called "duty of care" means they should be proactive when managing office environmental conditions, including temperature levels.

For employers, the duty of care also obliges them to monitor environmental conditions at workplaces under their control.

If necessary, the employer should seek expert assistance to monitor the environmental conditions on their behalf.

In order to meet their legal duties, employers should ensure that indoor office temperatures vary according to the outside temperature across the seasons.

Comcare, the Australian Federal OHS Agency, has produced a guide for buildings under Commonwealth control called Air Conditioning and Thermal Comfort in Australian Public Service Offices.

You will find the Comcare Guide by clicking here.

The Comcare Guide suggests that the comfort level in summer when people are wearing summer clothing is between 23 and 26 degrees Celsius.

Australian Standard AS1668.2 (The Use of Ventilation and Airconditioning in Buildings) also offers additional guidance.

General good practice in meeting the employers duty of care in relation to office temperature includes the following advice:

  • Ensure to monitor and regulate air temperature and humidity at comfortable levels;
  • Avoid locating workstations directly in front of or below air conditioning outlets;
  • Install deflectors on air vents to direct airflow away from people;
  • Control direct sunlight (radiant heat) with good building design (passive solar design) or use blinds, louvres or outdoor shade;
  • Minimize draughts and thermal differences between the head and the feet (thermal gradients);
  • Ensure adequate air flow to at least an applicable (in-country) Standard (e.g., to AS 1668.2); and
  • Monitor and regulate humidity levels according to staff comfort levels. 


If people in your office are concerned about the OHS impacts of office environmental conditions then they should approach management to request that the following things be checked:

  • Whether the heating and/or cooling system is working properly or needs maintenance, adjustment etc;
  • The temperature in various places within the building;
  • The amount of air flow within the office environment;  and 
  • The  level of humidity within the office.


In the event that the heating or cooling system breaks down management should provide free standing ventilation fans or temporary heaters as an interim measure until the system is fully restored. 

It maybe necessary to evacuate affected parts of the office when the working conditions become unacceptably uncomfortable.

There may also be a range of other workplace options including working from home as a short term measure.

Anonymous commented on 08-Feb-2012 08:03 PM

Post a Comment

Captcha Image

Trackback Link
Post has no trackbacks.

Recent Posts


SPE HSE Innovation Award Behaviour-based Safety (BBS) Marine Safety Aviation Safety Safety Video Procedure Training Course Occupational Overuse Syndrome Process Hazard Management Shale Gas Australian OSH Codes of Practice Railway Safety Safety Awards Radiation Sources LOTO Santos Thank God it's Friday Hazard Spotting HSE Leadership Electrical hazards Work in Confined Spaces Woodside Kellogg Joint Venture UK HSE Workplace bullying Safety Alert Safety PowerPoint Presentation Construction Safety Situational Awareness Drilling Customer Testimonial Safety "one per-center's" APPEA Safety Conference Excavations OHS Law Management of Change Energy Model of Hazards BP US OSHA Mining Hazardous Substances NOPSA Manufacturing Global Harmonized System PPE Natural Hazard Procedures NORM Safety Management Program Hierarchy of Safety Control NOPSEMA CSB Working with explosives Safety Moment Rail Safety WMC Resources Hydraulic Fracturing ("fracking") Kinetic Energy Walking Total Coal Seam Gas Working at height Call Centers one per center Nanotechnology Risk Tool Box OSHA Psycho-social Hazards Hospital Safety Water Corporation Road Transport Risk Management Fatigue Management Nautronix Chevron Safety Culture Survey Best bars in the oil patch Health Catostrophic Disaster Isolation Control Safe Operating Procedure (SOP) WorkSafe WA Incident Investigation Unconventional Hydrocarbons Risk Assessment Hazard Awareness Oil Spill Response TK Shipping Fire Prevention Bio-hazards Save our Seafarers Campaign Newfield Rosedale Abbey WA Resources Safety Unconventional Oil IFAP Ladder Safety Social Responsibility BHP Billiton Slips, trips and falls Hess Office Safety ALARP Crane lifts Sakhalin Energy Pollution prevention MSDS Shell Farm safety Driving Safety Salute to Our Hero's Emergency Response Hot work Safe at Home Manual handling Supervision Raspberry Ketones Scam Unconventional Gas Job Safety Analysis Safety Information Posters ENI Australia Contract Risk Management Toolbox talk


Blog / Terms of Use / Site Map / Disclaimer / Risk Management Tool Box 2009. All rights reserved. Web design by Luminosity. E-Commerce by JStores.