With temperatures today making an April record of 28.5C, many workers may be sweltering at their desks. After the disruption of the "Beast from the East" bringing extended snow disruption only weeks ago, employees and employers alike now face a new wave of weather-related challenges as people wilt at their desks.
As the mercury rises, many may not realise there is no maximum office temperature threshold which can be triggered. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 put a legal obligation on employers to provide a "reasonable" temperature in the workplace. The Approved Code of Practice suggests the minimum temperature in a workplace should normally be at least 16C, but there is no upper limit.
However, two MPs, Labour's Ian Mearns (Gateshead) and the SDLP's Mark Durkan (Foyle) are campaigning for the introduction of a statutory maximum working temperature, and say help to cool down should be offered to workers if temperatures rise above 30C. This could include introducing control measures, such as breaks, access to water and air conditioning. Mr Mearn has tabled an Early Day Motion to this effect in the House of Commons.
Whilst this Bill will come to late to offer any relief this week, watch this space!
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says a meaningful figure cannot be given at the upper end of the scale due to the high temperatures found in, for example, glass works or foundries. In these environments, it said it is still possible to work safely provided appropriate controls are present.