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Cold Weather Working & Employers Responsibilities

By Angela Southall

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.’

A reasonable temperature for a workplace depends on work activity and the environmental conditions of the workplace. The temperature in workrooms should normally be at least:

  • 16°C or
  • 13°C if much of the work involves rigorous physical effort.

Providing adequate workplace heating through the use of portable heaters may be necessary. Any heating system must not give off dangerous or offensive levels of fume into the workplace.

Outdoor working in cold weather

The HSE does not have specific guidance for working in temperatures below 13°C however you can help ensure thermal comfort when working in the cold by:

  • reducing cold exposure by designing processes that minimise exposure to cold areas and cold products where possible.
  • reducing draughts.
  • providing insulating floor coverings or special footwear when employees have to stand for long periods on cold floors.
  • providing appropriate protective clothing for cold environments.
  • introducing formal systems of work to limit exposure, eg flexible working patterns, job rotation.
  • providing sufficient breaks to enable employees to get hot drinks or to warm up in heated areas.

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Tags: Health and Safety