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Office Heating Laws

Office Heating Laws: What You Need to Know

The Workplace Health and Safety Regulations of 1992 cover temperatures in the indoor workplace. These help to ensure that employers provide a safe and temperate environment during all seasons of the year. However, not every employer is aware of these regulations. Today we’re going to take a look at what you can do to ensure your workplace meets the guidelines and ensure thermal comfort for your employees.

Minimum Workplace Temperatures

Workplace Regulations recommend that the minimum temperature in most indoor workplaces is 16oc. The only time they recommend a lower temperature (13oc) is in environments that require employees to make physical effort. These aren’t legal guidelines, however. The Workplace Regulations advise employers to determine a ‘reasonable comfort’ level, based on their circumstances.

Maximum Workplace Temperatures

There is no recommended upper limit for indoor workplaces, however offices shouldn’t have the same problem with heat as, for example, a glass works factory or a foundry. In the latter two examples, humidity, radiant temperature and air velocity all play a role in how comfortable the environment is for employees. In environments with high temperatures, employers are expected to provide cooling systems and additional facilities.

Office Heating Laws

Ways to Improve Employee Comfort

There are a number of ways that you can improve the comfort levels of your employees. We have made some suggestions below:

In Cold Environments

  • Provide adequate heating. You may want to consider portable heaters as well as heating systems.
  • Reduce draughts wherever possible, in particular around windows and doors.
  • Design processes that minimise your employees’ exposure to cold environments.
  • If your employees have to stand for a long time on cold floors, look into providing them with insulated footwear. You could also have extra insulation installed.
  • Allow employees to take sufficient breaks, and provide them with a means of receiving hot drinks. This could be as simple as adding a kettle or coffee machine to the staff room.
  • Introduce work systems which limit the amount of time an employee must spend in the cold, for example job rotation and flexible working patterns.
  • Provide the appropriate protective clothing where required.

In Hot Environments

  • Monitor the temperature and review working environments regularly. You may also want to record this as part of your risk assessment.
  • Offer health surveillance or medical screenings to staff who regularly work in high temperatures. This is especially important if you have staff with disabilities, as well as pregnant women under your employ.
  • Provide cooling equipment, fans, and/or air conditioning.
  • Ensure windows can be opened, and where possible place employee desks in the shaded areas of your office.
  • Consider relaxing the formal dress code on especially hot days. Don’t relax the rules for wearing protective clothing, however.
  • Provide facilities like water dispensers and cold drink machines, and provide employees with sufficient breaks to make use of these.
  • Consider adding insulating materials around hot pipes and look for ways to reduce your employees’ exposure.

In most offices, the advice above should be adequate to ensure a temperate environment. Those who work in extreme temperatures may want to request specific advice.

Here at Askews, we have over two decades of experience in heating, cooling and ventilation services, making us the perfect people to help you look after the temperature in your office. Click here for a free quote, or give us a call on 01282 863 825.

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