The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Temperature Regulations in the UK

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In the UK, the Workplace Regulations (Health, Safety and Welfare, 1992) outline particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment, including for temperature.

Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:

"During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable."

The application Regulation 7, however, depends on the type of workplace, such as a bakery, a cold store, an office, or a warehouse.

The associated Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) goes on to explain:

"The temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. Where such a temperature is impractical because of hot or cold processes, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable.

'Workroom' means a room where people normally work for more than short periods.

The temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius unless much of the work involves hard physical effort.  Under such circumstances, the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius.

These temperatures may not, however, ensure reasonable comfort, depending on other factors such as air movement and relative humidity."
 
If the temperature in a workroom is uncomfortably high because of hot processes, the design of the building, or other environmental factors, then all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature, for example by:

+   Insulating hot plant, process equipment  or pipes;

+   Providing air-cooling plant;

+   Shading windows; 

+   Moving workstations away from places subject to radiant heat; and/or

+   Application of local cooling using air-conditioning.

In extremely hot weather fans and increased ventilation may be used instead of local cooling.

Where, despite the provision of those methods, temperatures are still not reasonable, suitable protective clothing, roster, and rest facilities should be provided.

Typical examples of suitable protective clothing would be ice vests, or air/water fed suits.

The effectiveness of these PPE systems may be limited if used for extended periods of time with inadequate rest breaks.

Where practical there should be systems of work (for example, task rotation) to ensure that the length of time for which individual workers are exposed to uncomfortable temperatures is limited.
 
HSE previously defined thermal comfort in the workplace, as: 'An acceptable zone of thermal comfort for most people in the UK lies roughly between 13°C (56°F) and 30°C (86°F), with acceptable temperatures for more strenuous work activities concentrated towards the bottom end of the range, and more sedentary activities towards the higher end.'

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