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What Every Boss Should Know About Work In Cold Weather

By John Southall

Whether your business is retail or road maintenance, temperature plays an essential part in team safety, productivity and wellbeing. And with winter on the way, it’s important to reassess your working environment.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that: ‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable’.

In practice, a ‘reasonable’ workplace temperature depends on job activity and environmental conditions. The temperature in workrooms should normally be at least:

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

To maintain these temperatures, it may be necessary to use portable heaters – but you must be vigilant about dangerous or offensive levels of fumes being released into the workplace.

Outdoor working in cold weather

The HSE does not provide specific guidance for working in temperatures below 13°C, but you can help ensure your staff’s safety and comfort by:

  • Designing processes that minimise contact with cold areas and cold products
  • Reducing draughts
  • Providing insulating floor coverings or special footwear when employees have to stand for long periods on cold floors
  • Introducing formal systems of work to limit exposure, such as flexible working patterns and job rotation
  • Providing appropriate protective clothing for cold environments
  • Offering sufficient breaks and access to hot drinks and heated areas

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Tags: Health and Safety, Staff Wellbeing