Trade Unions concerned about workplace temperatures

TUC survey finds heat in the workplace is a major concern for trade unions

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is poised to release a report detailing how workplace temperatures are one of the top concerns of trade union health and safety representatives.

The TUC, the organisation that campaigns on behalf of over 50 trade unions operating in England and Wales, has carried out an annual survey with health and safety representatives from across its members and have collated the information in a report, which will be released within the coming weeks.

Over 1,000 health and safety representatives took part in the survey and the figures suggest that 16% of these are worried about high working temperatures.

This follows on from an earlier survey which found that 94% of teachers, college management personnel, and health and safety representatives claimed to have worked in dangerously high temperatures during the summer months.

The most recent survey found that high temperatures were a definite issue in the education sector, local and central government and in the manufacturing industry.

Those working in buildings constructed after the war, which typically comprise of many glass components, without a functioning air conditioning system, struggled most with workplace heat.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations advise that the temperature of a workplace environment should be ‘reasonable’ but state no maximum level. However, according to TUC, individuals work best in temperatures of between 18C and 24C.

The TUC has compiled a number of measures to prevent temperatures in the workplace going over the accepted safe level, including:

  • The installation of an up-to-date air conditioning system
  • The installation of fans and ventilation
  • The relaxation of workplace dress codes
  • Redesigning the working area to address any issues, such as windows
  • Relax working hours to allow staff to work at times outside of peak temperatures

The TUC is now calling on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local and central government to implement regulations that control the maximum working temperature a worker can be expected to work in.

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