Last edited 25 Jul 2019

Maximum and minimum workplace temperatures

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Temperatures in the workplace are governed by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which oblige employers to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 Approved Code of Practice suggests a minimum temperature of 16°C, or 13°C if work involves severe physical effort. However, these are only guidelines, and the there is no recommended maximum temperature at all.

This is because the personal experience of temperature is a very complex one that cannot sensibly be reduced to a single figure. Instead it depends on the interaction of a number of factors such as:

See Thermal comfort for more information.

Despite this, a number of attempts have been made to provide simple guidance for maximum workplace temperatures.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have previously defined thermal comfort in the workplace, as '…roughly between 13°C and 30°C, with acceptable temperatures for more strenuous work activities concentrated towards the bottom end of the range, and more sedentary activities towards the higher end.'

In 2006, The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) defined overheating as conditions when the comfortable internal temperature threshold of 28°C is surpassed for more than 1% of occupied (working) hours or where 25°C is surpassed for 5% of occupied (working) hours. Ref https://www.cibse.org/getattachment/Networks/Regions/South-Wales/South-Wales-Past-Presentations/TM52-The-limits-of-thermal-comfort-Cardiff.pdf.aspx

CIBSE have also defined 35°C as the internal temperature above which there is a significant danger of heat stress. However, they suggest that temperatures of more than 28°C for long periods will result in increased dissatisfaction and reduced productivity. Ref https://www.cibse.org/knowledge/knowledge-items/detail?id=a0q20000006obXh

In 2006, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) stated that it believed a maximum temperature of 30ºC should be set, or 27ºC for those doing strenuous work.

In July 2019, the Labour party proposed the same maximum workplace temperature of 30ºC, or 27ºC for those doing strenuous work. They tasked a proposed Royal Commission on Health and Safety at Work with bringing forward proposals along these lines.

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