Take the heat off!

Aug 07 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

As the UK swelters in record-breaking temperatures, there have been renewed calls from the TUC for a legal maximum working temperature.

While legislation has enshrined a legal minimum temperature below which no one should have to work, there is no equivalent if it gets too hot. The TUC has called for a maximum working temperature of 30 degrees Celsius or 27 degrees for those doing strenuous work.

"There is no logic for having a minimum work temperature but no maximum and we urge employees Ė if they cannot reduce the heat at work - they could relax dress code, allow more breaks and more shift rotation," said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.

A survey by HR Gateway this week found that almost three-quarters of respondents thought an heat limit should be defined. A mere two per cent believed that there should be no restriction.

Vanessa Stebbings of HR Gateway Consulting said there were more things employers could do to make the heat more bearable for employees and therefore avoid unnecessary absences.

"Whilst British legislation does not set a maximum working temperature the World Health Organisation recommends a maximum air temperature of 24 degrees Celsius for employees to work comfortably.

"Inadequate facilities to maintain a comfortable environment in the hot weather can lead to a range of problems caused by loss of fluids due to perspiration which gives rise to cramp, headache and fatigue," she warned.