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Are Your Productivity Levels Low? Is It The Temperature At Work?

September 9th, 2014

There has been much debate about the impact of climate change, the workplace and its impact on productivity.  Naturally, depending upon the workplace environment your staff may struggle when there are extreme weather episodes.  Some may not be able to concentrate, feel overwhelmed, complain and others will simply go off sick.  So what do you need to know?  How can you manage the risk?

Legal Position 

Employers are obliged to provide a safe working environment both indoors and outdoors.  They are also generally required to assess risks and introduce any necessary prevention or control measures.  Examples include increasing ventilation or heating, providing air cooling plants or suitable protective clothing and moving work stations to better areas.

Minimum And Maximum Temperatures At Work 

Whilst the legislation does not prescribe a minimum or maximum workplace temperature, it does stipulate that any indoor workplace must be reasonable.  The Health & Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice provides some useful insight in this regard.  It confirms that the temperature should at least be 16°C or 13°C if much of the work is physical.  It also stipulates that an acceptable maximum temperature level lies between 16°C and 30°C.

What is reasonable depends on the particular circumstances.  What may be acceptable in a bakery is unlikely to be suited to another, say a supermarket cold store.

Complaints

If any complaints are received about unacceptable temperatures, you should consider undertaking a risk assessment.  This is any event is advised to be undertaken by the Health & Safety Executive in the following instances:

Air conditioned offices: More than 10% of employees complaining

Naturally ventilated offices: More than 15% of employees complaining

Retail businesses, warehouses, factories and all other indoor environments that may not have air conditioning: More than 20% of employees complaining

When undertaking a risk assessment you should consider all risks posed, deploy any necessary measures, review outputs and undertaken any further measures like relaxing dress codes and allowing staff to be flexible in their working arrangements.

Bhavna Patel is an employment law specialist.  If you would like to speak to her about any aspect of this article or any employment related matter please feel free to call her on 01494 773377 or send her an email to hello@lennonssolicitors.co.uk.

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