What is the ‘right’ temperature?10-09-2018
During the recent heatwaves many businesses were struggling to cope with keeping the temperature at a comfortable level in the workplace. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that it is a legal obligation for employers to ensure that the temperature is ‘reasonable’, but what is this ‘right’ temperature?
Although in the UK we don’t usually have months and months of blistering heat, it’s important we can manage during the odd heatwave which may make an appearance throughout our ‘so-called’ Summer. This doesn’t apply to just offices; Schools, shops, restaurants to name a few, all need to take note.
The heat can not only make us uncomfortable, but it can play havoc with our bodies making us feel tired, less energetic, suffer from heat exhaustion and it can also cause extra strain on the heart and lungs. These issues can lead to a decrease in productivity and more importantly, severe health conditions if we are exposed to environments where the temperature is too hot for a long period of time. To prove the affects of heat on the mind, an experiment was conducted in Boston by Scientists during a heatwave1. They asked students to complete a series of cognitive tests and only some students were living in housing with air conditioning. The students who didn’t have any air conditioning in their houses scored 13.3% worse than the students with air conditioning.
It’s not only the heat we need to worry about, employers should also be aware of the problems that come with the temperature being too cold in the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive has professed that the reasonable working temperature of an indoor workplace should be at least 16 degrees Celsius and 13 degrees Celsius if the work involves physical tasks. When the body is in an extremely cold environment, it can lead to poor blood circulation. When the blood doesn’t circulate as it should do, the human body isn’t able to warm itself up. Furthermore, poor circulation can lead to organ issues in the long run which can have catastrophic effects.
Of course, there is never going to be a temperature to suit every individual’s personal preference, but businesses should be making the necessary checks to verify that the temperature is comfortable. With Winter only around the corner, it might be worth checking that the heating within the building is in working order now to ensure happy and healthy employees!
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