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What is the Legal Minimum Temperature for a Workplace?

man welding wearing protective gear in hot workplace.Employers must provide a reasonable indoor temperature in the workplace under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. According to its Approved Code of Practice, the minimum temperature for working indoors should be:

Workplaces, activities, and environmental conditions all vary and affect what classes as a reasonable working temperature. For outdoor workplaces such as construction sites, employers must provide protection against adverse weather, which could lower temperatures.

A risk assessment for any workplace must be conducted and control measures must be introduced to keep working temperatures at a safe level.

What temperature should a workplace be?

An indoor workplace should have a minimum temperature of 16°C or 13°C if the type of work involves physical activity. There’s no legal temperature range for a workplace but it should be a reasonable temperature to protect worker welfare. What defines a ‘reasonable temperature’ differs across workplaces.

Factors that affect workplace temperatures include:

What is the maximum temperature in a workplace?

There is no legal maximum temperature for a workplace in the UK. However, employers have a legal duty of care to keep temperatures at a comfortable level. Heat is a hazard that can pose a health and safety risk, so carrying out a risk assessment and putting in place control measures is important.

This includes both indoor and outdoor work. Exposure to high heat inside or outside for long periods may cause serious health effects for employees. Work activities such as using certain machinery and equipment may lead to temperature rises, which create uncomfortable and dangerous working conditions.

Workplace risk assessments that focus on heat at all times of the year must be conducted. The findings of these reviews can identify high-temperature hazards and help put in place control measures to keep workers safe in both indoor and outdoor workplaces.

What is the law on workplace temperature?

There’s no specific law on workplace temperature. However, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations makes it a legal requirement for employers to assess the risks for workers and put in place control measures. This includes for temperature in the workplace, whether it can get too high or low.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 is another act that covers workplace temperature for indoor and outdoor working environments. These also require reasonable workplace temperatures and protection against adverse weather for outside workplaces (such as a building or demolition site). This includes providing protective clothing or work equipment where necessary.

What is the maximum hot water temperature in the workplace?

In UK workplaces hot water should be stored at least at 60°C. It should be distributed so that it reaches 50°C within one minute at the outlets – or 55°C in healthcare premises. Cold water systems should be maintained at temperatures below 20°C. This is to reduce the risk of exposure to legionella.

How to prevent heat stress in the workplace

Heat stress occurs when the body fails to control its internal temperature, it rises and causes health effects. Many factors affect and increase the risk of heat stress, such as the working temperature, humidity, ventilation, and clothing. It can lead to fainting, dehydration, muscle cramps, exhaustion, and heat stroke.

The risk of heat stress is more common in working environments such as bakeries, kitchens, laundries, power plants, and other confined spaces with machinery and activities that give off heat. Employers must minimise the chance of heat stress by maintaining a reasonable working temperature. These are a few ways to help prevent heat stress in the workplace: