Heatwave: What's the maximum temperature a workplace can be?

Heatwave: What's the maximum temperature a workplace can be?

The UK has just enjoyed a glorious bank holiday - with temperatures reaching as high as 28.7°C, it may have felt more like Spain than our usually gloomy isle.

But being back in the office in such beautiful weather can be uncomfortable, or even dangerous if the temperature gets too high. So, what does the law say about hot weather and work?

Surprisingly, there’s no maximum temperature your workplace can be. While the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that ‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable,’ but it doesn’t state what ‘reasonable’ means.

The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers recommends a medium temperature of 16°C for factories, 18°C for hospitals, and 20°C for offices – but don’t forget factors such as ventilation, clothing and humidity can also affect how hot someone feels.

Below, we’ve collated top tips to ensure your staff remain safe and productive in hot weather:

1) Relax dress codes

Allowing your staff to ditch their blazers for light clothing such as shorts can make a big difference to their comfort and ability to focus.

2) Encourage employees to drink more water

Dehydration can be a real threat in hot weather. As well as being bad for your health, mild dehydration will also slash your concentration so it’s in your best interests to ensure your staff keep a drink at their desk. Perhaps you could you get another water cooler in an easily accessible place to encourage adequate water breaks.

3) Check all your equipment is working now

Even though it’s warm now, it’s likely to be even hotter in the summer months. Get out all your fans and air conditioners and give them a test run. Check you have enough to cover the area you need to and replace any broken ones to ensure you’re prepared.

4) Consider working from home options

It might be easiest simply to allow employees to work from the comfort of their own homes, allowing them to avoid a hot office and a sweltering commute.

5) Moving work stations

If working from home isn’t an option at your business, then consider exactly where your staff are working. Are they in direct sunlight? Are they grouped closely together? Are they in an area with no windows they can open? Try moving desks around to prevent heat from building up.

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6) Encourage communication and listen

Tell your staff that if they have any problems relating to the temperature, they can talk let your HR department know. Your staff might be having temperature-related issues you haven’t thought of, so give them a clear channel of communication.

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