The temperature of a workplace should be monitored to ensure it is at a reasonable temperature for workers to work comfortably. The temperatures are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. It places a legal obligation on employers to ensure employees are working in a reasonable temperature.
High Workplace Temperatures
Each working environment requires a different climate. For example, glass works will have a high but safe temperature to work in. Working in high temperatures can affect your body dramatically. Because of this, many people may go through heat stress, particularly bakers etc. However, some people may go through a phase of heat stress during summer months. Heat stress occurs when the body’s means of controlling its internal temperature begins to fail. Factors including Humidity, Work Rate and Clothing may lead to heat stress as well as Air Temperature. Due to these factors it may be fairly difficult for somebody to acknowledge that their is heat stress present in someone. It is extremely important that each employee is well aware of how to work safely in the heat.
Effects of Heat Stress
Individuals will react differently to heat stress and some people may be more likely to experience it than others. Below are a few of the symptoms people may experience:
- Inability to concentrate
- Heat rash
- Muscle cramps
- Heat stroke
- Severe thirst
- Heat exhaustion
How to reduce the risks
An easy way to reduce the risks would be to manage the climate of the workplace. This can be done by changing the processes, use fans or air conditioning or use physical barriers that can reduce exposure to radiant heat. Another way would be by preventing dehydration. It is very often that people may become dehydrated when working in hot conditions. This is because the hot temperature causes sweating which helps people stay cool. However, this will lead to the body losing vital water that will then need replacing. It is essential that employers provide cool water in the workplace and ensure that employees are frequently drinking.
Minimum temperature in the workplace
There is a suggested minimum temperature from The Approved Code of Practice which is nothing below 16 degrees Celsius. If the work involved requires physical effort it should be at least 13 degrees. These statistics are not legal requirements although it is the employers duty to determine what reasonable comfort will be in the particular circumstances.
It is essential that employers provide certain things for their workers. It is important to make sure they are working in a reasonable temperature preferably 16 degrees in workroom and 13 degrees for strenuous work. Also, workers should have sufficient space in the work rooms to ensure they are comfortable. Furthermore, local heating and cooling where a comfortable temperature cannot be maintained throughout each work room is important.
When working outdoors your welfare is at risk due to the environmental conditions the weather can cause. The employee working outdoors will be at a higher risk if the risks have never been considered or managed properly. Impacts may occur over a long period of time or even immediately. An example would be skin damage, caused by too much exposure to the sun. Some of these may include sun burn, blistering and skin aging. Exposure to the sun could also lead to long term problems such as skin cancer. This type of cancer is one of the most common forms in the UK with a huge amount of cases in a year, reaching up to over 50,000.
In order to reduce unnecessary exposure, follow some of these tips
- More frequent breaks
- Taking breaks in the shade whenever possible
- Scheduling work to cooler times of the day
- Provide shade where work tasks are undertaken
- Wearing long sleeve shirts or loose clothing
- Wearing hats with a wide brim
It is essential that people protect their skin, burn skin is damaged skin!
What to do when people are too hot
There are many simple things you can do to help people stay cool. Some of these may include things as easy as providing fans, opening windows, providing regular breaks, relaxed dress code, or even just providing cold water. It is the employers duty to make sure their workers are comfortable. This could easily be done by following some of the previous simple steps. Many risks can be avoided if they’re followed such as heat stress, dehydration and dizziness etc.
How can you help people who are too cold?
Helping people who are cold is just as simple as helping people who are too hot. Being cold can cause many health problems or something just as little as a bad cough. That’s why it is extremely important to follow tips. To keep workers comfortable it may be ideal to provide a form of heating for example portable heaters. You should encourage workers to wear appropriate clothing that’ll help with the cold conditions. It is completely essential that workers have sufficient breaks to enable them to warm up and have hot drinks.
Workplace temperature is very important and should always be thought about, for more information click here.