New law to set maximum temperature for workplaces to help sweltering Brits during heatwaves, MPs urge | The Sun

A NEW law to protect workers from illness during heatwaves is needed, MPs have urged.

They want a limit of 30C in most workplaces or 27C for those doing strenuous work guaranteed in law.

Employers would have a legal duty to introduce “effective control measures”, such as installing ventilation or moving staff away from windows and sources of heat, under the proposals.

A total of 37 MPs have signed a motion, tabled in the House of Commons by Labour’s Ian Mearns (Gateshead), in support of the plan.

It comes as the Met Office warns parts of England and Wales could face extreme heat at the beginning of next week, with temperatures predicted to soar into the 30s.

The early day motion (EDM) states: “That this House notes that recent surveys of workplace health and safety representatives show that high temperatures are one of their top concerns.

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“(It) regrets that workers in the UK have no guaranteed legal safeguards from working in uncomfortable high temperatures, and that the consequences of this range from dizziness, tiredness, asthma, throat infections and, in extreme cases, heat stroke and death.

“(It) insists that without recognised law, current recommendations for employers to maintain a reasonable temperature within the workplace are impossible to enforce unless a worker is seriously insured or killed from heat stress.

“And (it) calls on the Government to introduce legislative proposals to ensure a maximum working temperature of 30 degrees Celsius, or 27 degrees Celsius for those doing strenuous work, beyond which employers would have a statutory duty to introduce effective control measures, such as installing ventilation or moving staff away from windows and sources of heat.”

EDMs allow MPs to express an opinion, publicise a cause or support a position but there's no guarantee one would pass.

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What rights do I have if it's too hot in the office?

There's no minimum or maximum temperature requirement for offices or other places of work currently set out in law.

But employers must make sure conditions are "reasonable".

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has previously suggested that workplaces should have a minimum temperature of 16°C.

For physical work, like working on a building site, it suggests a lower minimum of 13°C.

However, it has said that it cannot give a meaningful maximum temperature, because some kinds of businesses will be hot by definition – such as glassworks or bakeries.

Bosses must make sure their employees have access to water and monitor their wellbeing in hot weather, according to HSE guidelines.

Typical symptoms of heat stress are:

  • an inability to concentrate
  • muscle cramps
  • heat rash
  • severe thirst – a late symptom of heat stress
  • fainting
  • heat exhaustion – fatigue, giddiness, nausea, headache, moist skin
  • heat stroke – hot dry skin, confusion, convulsions and eventual loss of consciousness. This is the most severe disorder and can result in death if not detected at an early stage

There are ways to go about changing your workplace policy though.

The HSE has previously said: “If a significant number of employees are complaining about thermal discomfort, your employer should carry out a risk assessment, and act on the results of that assessment.”

That means you should tell your boss or HR if you're too hot or cold, and if enough people complain, the business should look into it.

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The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers recommends the following temperatures for different working areas:

  • Heavy work in factories: 13°C
  • Light work in factories: 16°C
  • Hospital wards and shops 18°C
  • Offices and dining rooms 20°C

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