The TUC is renewing calls for a maximum legal workplace temperature

While
there is a legal minimum temperature below which no-one should have to work (16
degrees C), there is no equivalent if it gets too hot.

The
TUC is calling for a maximum working temperature of 30 degrees C, or 27 degrees
C for those doing strenuous work.

Workers
whose exposure to heat cannot be reduced, should be provided with adequate
breaks and offered job rotation as hot temperatures cause injuries and illness
at work, said the TUC.

Employees
suffering in sweltering workplaces run the risk of:


heat stroke and dehydration


tiredness leading to accidents


irritability and the threat of violence


higher stress levels, with enhanced risks of mental and physical illness

TUC
General Secretary, Brendan Barber, said: "Sweatshop conditions can push
workers to boiling point. Extreme heat is as bad for you as extreme cold. There
is no logic for having a minimum work temperature but no maximum.

"The
TUC urges employers to be flexible in these tough temperatures. If they cannot
reduce the heat at work they could relax dress codes, and allow more breaks and
more shift rotation."

HR
professionals agree with the TUC. Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of the
230 HR professionals polled by HR Gateway believe an upper limit should be
applied, while a quarter said that it depended on the job, and 2 per cent
thought no limit was necessary.

Vanessa
Stebbings of HR Gateway Consulting said: "While British legislation does
not set a maximum working temperature, the World Health Organisation recommends
a maximum air temperature of 24 degrees C."

When
assessing the risks to heat, it should be remembered that women who are
pregnant or menopausal are more susceptible to heat intolerance, she said.

By Quentin Reade

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