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Hi Everyone,

 

I need some input please:

 

HSE guide states working temp should be comfortable with no specific range. A consultation doc on the tinterweb quotes WHO recommendations of upto 23 C.

 

I work in a open plan office. There are no windows and no fresh air flow inwards. The A/C is broken / ineffective. Measurements taken the past two days show 29 C and 33 C. This under the HSE guide is clearly not comfortable.

 

The company have provided 2 fans, which just move hot air around.

 

I have been vomiting and severe headaches, sweating constantly, non productive.

Others (there are approx 20 of us here, with same amount of computers) have experienced the same.

 

I intend to stay at home tommorrow, and will be contacting them as the working conditions are unbearable and unreasonable ?

 

What, if any, consequence could I face ?

 

We have asked for it to be repaired / checked - employer will not as cost prohibted.

 

I am going to use the home insurance legal help if required, but is there any case law on this ???

 

Thanks

 

N

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mass walk out me thinks!

 

dx

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Unfortunately the law isn't on your side .

 

The temperature has to be a minimum of 16 degree Celsius, but there is not guidance on the upper limit unfortunately.

I am not a legal professional or adviser, I am however a Law Student and very well versed areas of Employment Law. Anything I write here is purely from my own experiences! If I help, then click the star to add to my reputation :)

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16 no 19?

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Hello there.

 

This happened to me a few years back. We were in a room with lots of computer kit and I think it was well over 30C, I can't quite remember.

 

But when we looked into it, as has been said, there is only a minimum temperature and no maximum. Common sense ought to prevail though. Sorry I can't say anything more encouraging.

 

I don't know if you local council environmental health would cover this, it might be worth a phone call unless someone here says it's a waste of time.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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As stated above, the law does not afford you much protection. although temperatures must be maintained at a 'reasonable' level, there is no legal definition of what is reasonable.

 

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 are the guideline regulations governing comfort in the workplace, and in the first instance you need to raise a grievance that your Health, Safety and Welfare are not being looked after by the employer. This 'should' ideally provoke a Risk Assessment, the purpose of which should be to minimise the risk to health and to restore a comfortable working environment. Although unlikely to prompt the employer to go out and buy air conditioning, the next best thing might be to allow a greater number of breaks away from the workstation and with access to fresh air, provision of cold drinks etc. Maybe even allowing a change to the workplace dress code?

 

A unilateral day off work because of the hot weather is unlikely to impress your employer and will leave you wide open to an allegation of going AWOL.

 

I wouldn't even bother checking your insurance - there is no case law and no real opportunity of success. Of course if the employer failed to respond to a grievance and people were genuinely struck with illness as a consequence, signed off by a Doctor, then you might be able to get the Environmental Health involved. Unfortunately this one comes around from time to time, and the outcome is always the same - nobody is going to force an employer to install aircon or make other expensive changes which are only going to be needed for a limited period each year, when the rest of the time many staff want the heating turned up to the sort of temperature that you are now trying to avoid!

 

The Regs do give some hope as there is a responsibility for H&S and Welfare, but this is unlikely to go much beyond what I have suggested.

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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16 no 19?

 

dx

 

16 is the 'suggested' minimum working temperature, 13 if the work involves physical activity. There is no 'legal' minimum, just a guideline.

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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Thanks for all your responses - I was doubtful the the H&S would be of use in reality....

 

We have to purchase our own water (the cooler was removed 10 months ago to save costs). The water we buy (5 ltrs co-op) is at ambient temp. Dress code is normal office attire two piece **** and tie.

 

We have AC fitted , just not working and company not willing to pay out. Winter was nice, as you can always put on clothes, but short of wearing a mankini, there is no way of cooling down.

 

I am going to take a sick day - genuinely ill with it, and see how it goes.....

 

Oh, I work for a major hospitality international group, the requests made locally have been meet with 'humour' at doing something about it...

Also i was abroad last week in 45 C plus temps, and wasn't suffering at all.....

 

Perhaps when the clients begin complaining and walkin out, something will be done, as the revenue would be affected - my department does not generate revenue, just adds it up :-)

 

N

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Hi

 

This info from HSE may be of help:

 

What is the minimum/maximum temperature in the Workplace?

 

 

The law does not state a minimum temperature, but the temperature in workrooms should normally be at least:

  • 16°C, or
  • 13°C if much of the work is physical.

For full details read on...

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 lay down particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment. Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:

‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’

However, the application of the regulation depends on the nature of the workplace, such as a bakery, a cold store, an office, a warehouse.

The associated ACOP ( Workplace health, safety and welfare. Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. Approved Code of Practice[1] ) goes on to explain:

‘The temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. Where such a temperature is impractical because of hot or cold processes, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable. 'Workroom' means a room where people normally work for more than short periods.

 

The temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius unless much of the work involves severe physical effort in which case the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. These temperatures may not, however, ensure reasonable comfort, depending on other factors such as air movement and relative humidity.’

Where the temperature in a workroom would otherwise be uncomfortably high, for example because of hot processes or the design of the building, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature, for example by:

  • insulating hot plants or pipes;
  • providing air-cooling plant;
  • shading windows;
  • siting workstations away from places subject to radiant heat.

Where a reasonably comfortable temperature cannot be achieved throughout a workroom, local cooling should be provided. In extremely hot weather fans and increased ventilation may be used instead of local cooling.

Where, despite the provision of local cooling, workers are exposed to temperatures which do not give reasonable comfort, suitable protective clothing and rest facilities should be provided. Typical examples of suitable protective clothing would be ice vests, or air/water fed suits. The effectiveness of these PPE systems may be limited if used for extended periods of time with inadequate rest breaks. Where practical there should be systems of work (for example, task rotation) to ensure that the length of time for which individual workers are exposed to uncomfortable temperatures is limited.

 

HSE previously defined thermal comfort in the workplace, as: 'An acceptable zone of thermal comfort for most people in the UK lies roughly between 13°C (56°F) and 30°C (86°F), with acceptable temperatures for more strenuous work activities concentrated towards the bottom end of the range, and more sedentary activities towards the higher end.'

 

What are the Regulatory requirements for workplace temperature?

 

The regulatory requirements for workplace temperatures are set by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 which replaced the requirements under the Factories Act 1961 and the Offices, Shops and Railways Premises Act 1963.

 

Under the regulations it states that the temperature of indoor workplaces should be reasonable. The Approved Code of Practice defines a reasonable temperature indoors as being normally at least 16°C unless the work involves severe physical work in which case the temperature should be at least 13°C.

 

Where there are requirement for workrooms to operate at lower temperatures for example for food hygiene purposes you should refer to the chilled food advice[2].

These regulations only apply to employees they do no apply to members of the public for example with regard temperature complaints from customers in a shopping centre or cinema.

 

How hot does it have to be before I can Complain?

 

Refer to the table in Step 1 of the Five steps to risk assessment[5]. If the percentage of workers complaining about thermal discomfort exceeds the recommended figure, your employer should carry out a risk assessment, and act on the results of that assessment. (SEE BELOW)

 

 

Step 1: Identify Hazards

Are employees complaining that they are feeling too hot or too cold?

 

The following limits have provisionally been adopted. They are intended as the trigger to indicate that a thermal comfort risk assessment may be necessary, and as such they are not prescriptive. The limits have been set up to take into account differences between premises, types of occupations and the ability to control the environments in those situations.

Air conditioned offices Are more than 10% of employees complaining of being too hot or too cold? Naturally ventilated offices Are more than 15% of employees complaining of being too hot or too cold? Retail businesses, warehouses, factories and all other indoor environments that may not have air conditioning Are more than 20% of employees complaining of being too hot or too cold?

 

If the answer is YES to the above, then you may need to conduct a thermal comfort risk assessment. When conducting a risk assessment:

  • listen to your workers views and concerns. They are experts in their jobs, and may have noticed things that are not immediately obvious. Also speak to your employees representatives (e.g. unions and other staff associations) in the workplace,
  • contact industry federations or associations etc, and consider speaking to managers in other companies that are involved in the same business as your own;
  • contact HSE for advice.

Identify the problems

 

 

Is a detailed risk assessment required, or might the problem be solved simply? Simple solutions may include:

  • closing windows in air conditioned offices;
  • pulling down blinds to prevent solar radiant heat etc;
  • providing employees with sufficient control to adapt the environment by adding or removing layers of clothing;
  • look - visually inspect the workplace to identify hazards that may impact on employee thermal comfort;
  • look for patterns in the absenteeism rates, types of illnesses and their frequency of occurrence, the nature of employee complaints etc.
  • take particular note of where the employee may work, their job, how experienced they are, whether any illnesses are recurring etc.

Things to look out for include:

  • Are there any heat sources in the workplace?
  • Are workers exposed to external climatic conditions?
  • Are workers wearing PPE?
  • Are workers involved in intensive physical activity?

What are the consequences of thermal discomfort?

 

 

Are your employees reporting illnesses and other ailments that may be linked to the thermal environment?

  • Read through any RIDDOR reports and any internal accident or injury reports.
  • Are there any patterns to the nature of reportable accidents or injuries?
  • Could any repeated accidents be attributed to the effects of thermally-induced physiological or psychological performance decrements (eg fatigue, loss of concentration etc).

Things to look out for include:

  • Do accidents increase during periods of hotter or cooler weather?
  • Do absentee rates increase during hotter or cooler weather?
  • Are there more complaints during hotter or cooler weather?
  • Do more than 20% of employees complain of any of the symptoms of thermal discomfort?

Here are the links to above: http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/faq.htm http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/thermal/step1.htm

Edited by stu007

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I do feel for you. The problem is not just heat but humidity, especially in an office, and it can make you feel really ill. It does though need a grievance, preferably from the majority and the question

 

'If you are not going to provide cooling facilities for the office, how, under your responsibilty for the Health, Safety and Welfare of staff, do you propose to minimise the risk of health problems?'

 

Shrugging shoulders and talking about 'costs' is not an option - there is always a a degree of flexibility that can be applied in exceptional circumstances. Is there access to a fridge?

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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Unfortunately the law isn't on your side .

 

The temperature has to be a minimum of 16 degree Celsius, but there is not guidance on the upper limit unfortunately.

 

Yes they can't freeze you but they can fry you!

If the conditions are making you ill go to your GP and get him/her to sign you off sick.

Also, do you have a health and safety rep or union rep? If so take it up with them as they may be able to help

Gbarbm

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