Have you ever noticed how hard it is to focus on what you’re doing whenever the temperature gets too hot or even too cold?
Striking a balance in an office environment to keep all employees satisfied is one of the most difficult tasks in workplace management. It is reported that 80% of office workers complain about the temperature of their workplace and an unsatisfied employee is unlikely to be a productive one.
A 2014 survey found that 29% of workers spend between ten and 30 minutes each day not working due to an uncomfortable temperature, while 6% spend more than 30 minutes each day not working for this reason. Overall, 2% of office hours are wasted due to the temperature, which could cost the UK economy more than £13 billion annually.
With temperatures recently reaching a high of 33°C, some employees are happier than others about the mini heat wave sweeping the UK. Extremely high temperatures within the workplace are not only uncomfortable, but can be dangerous with 50% of offices being considered too hot in the summer.
What are the employers’ responsibilities in the summer?
Employees have a right to go home if the temperature drops below 16°C, but there is not currently a law that sets a maximum temperature limit.
The TUC (UK Trade Union Centre) has called for regulations to be put into place that would allow workers to go home if the temperature of their workplace reaches 30°C and has said that employers should be obliged to take measures to cool the workplace down if the temperature is above 24°C.
To keep employees cool, the TUC has recommended that dress codes are relaxed, desks are moved away from windows and, where possible, air conditioning installed.
In addition to the proposed regulations, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to make a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees and take action where necessary.
The temperature of the workplace is one of the potential hazards that employers should address to meet their legal obligations. Employers should consult with employees or their representatives to establish sensible means to cope with high temperatures.
You and your employees must be aware of how to work safely in heat, the factors that can lead to heat stress, and how to reduce the risk of it occurring.
Click here for more information and to download a brief guide on ’temperature in the workplace’.