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Safe Working Temperatures

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 6 Jan 2021 | comments*Discuss
Safe Working Temperatures Cold Hot

Safe working temperatures are important in any workplace. Low temperatures, for instance, can be uncomfortable. A cold atmosphere creates dissatisfaction and complaints. Few people can focus properly on their work when they’re trying to stay warm.

Furthermore, in a cold workplace, staff may put on jumpers and jackets. In a shop, these may not fit with a retailer’s brand image. And in an office, heavy clothing can restrict movement when using computers.

At the other end of the scale, excess heat can cause drowsiness. This in turn may lead to sloppy or unfinished work. High temperatures cause Heat Stress and other health problems.

Minimum Temperatures

The minimum safe working temperatures recommended by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are 13ºC and 16ºC.

The first of these applies to a workplace where there is physical activity. Such activity could be loading and stacking in a warehouse, or mobile work in a factory.

A minimum temperature of 16ºC applies to a sedentary workplace. This could be an office environment, a call centre or a public reception area.

Maximum Temperatures

Despite the difficulties associated with hot working environments, there is no legal maximum safe working temperature. The only requirement is that workplace temperatures in buildings should be reasonable. This condition appears in the Workplace Regulations 1992.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has gathered many examples of the effect of high temperatures. During hot summers, for example, employees are more prone to trip or slip. And those staff that work with computers often suffer from stress, tension and tiredness.

For manual workers, the effects of working in hot conditions are just as bad. The TUC has reports of fainting, dizziness and cramps. For some workers, the heat also places a dangerous burden on lungs and hearts.

Other common medical conditions associated with working in overheated workplaces include asthma, throat infections, and rhinitis.


In the absence of a legal ruling, the TUC has recommended maximum safe working temperatures. These are 27ºC for manual workers, and 30ºC for sedentary workers.

Controlling High Temperatures

In an office, employers may be able to keep the maximum temperature below 30ºC. They can do this with suitable ventilation and shades.

Suitable ventilation can take the form of air conditioning, open windows and fans. These measures can help to keep the air fresh. Stuffy air interferes with workers’ concentration, and can raise the temperature to uncomfortable levels.

If employers use air conditioning, they need to ensure that engineers regularly service and maintain the systems. Badly functioning air conditioning has led to examples of increased rather than lower temperatures.

Employers can also make staff more comfortable by allowing a sensible dress code and by ensuring there are regular breaks for cooling drinks.

Controlling safe working temperatures for people doing manual work outdoors in the heat is more difficult. The TUC suggests that such workers have regular breaks and drink a lot of water. It also proposes that management arranges for workers to rotate to jobs in shaded areas whenever possible.

Controlling Low Temperatures

In an office or shop, the obvious way to maintain the minimum safe working temperature is by using heaters.

For outdoor manual workers, employers should supply adequate warm clothing. Manual workers should also have frequent hot drinks.

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Having issues of cold took temperatures on my phone which I never done before as temperatures are sometimes 6.... Lucky if 13... That is westcroft Morrison's
Pat - 6-Jan-21 @ 5:27 PM
Working on tills was just 8 few times .. But hot enough in office ...
Pat - 3-Jan-21 @ 7:07 PM
My husband was hospitalised with heatstroke air con broke in hgv lorry he collapsed while at the wheel can’t remember anything thing just that he tried to drive the lorry to the shade it was so hot like being in a green house in the cab the temp was 33 out side and hotter in the cab he was in hospital 3 days the doctors said he cooked and if they had not got to him he could of died he had been drinking water all day to keep hydrated the doctors said it was the broken aircon that caused itI am trying to find out if this as happened to anyone else .we think the aircon should be on check list but is not at the moment in the uk .
Worried - 22-Aug-20 @ 9:28 AM
I work in a Nursery growing plants in NewZealand. The conditions are not good for the winter ..We have no heating facilities in our smoko room not hot running water our hot house has big rips in the roof no heating in the hothouse .When it rains thats the worst .is that legal
Eva - 16-Aug-20 @ 9:45 PM
Hi we can live in the state of New Jersey and my husband works and I warehouse loading trucks. We've had a bed Heatwave and they have industrial-size fans and they don't give him breaks. They Supply them with water. But he has been to the hospital twice and he had to go home a couple time and just started the job because he's been showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The hospital couldn't figure out what was going on but I read the symptoms he's been nauseated and throwing up and he passed out on time at work also. Is this legal?
Babypop - 22-Jul-20 @ 4:36 PM
My husband works in a warehouse and he has been sick from the Heat and he doesn't get any breaks at all. I live in New Jersey and they don't require breaks but in a heatwave working with in a warehouse with industrial-size fans in the heat with no breaks he's been getting sick and actually went up in the hospital twice. I think it was from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. They didn't really know what it was but he the symptoms were of a heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
Dee - 22-Jul-20 @ 4:33 PM
My husband has bern working in a heatwave they don't let you have any breaks they provide water and have industrial fans but he's wound up in the er twice. I thought it was from the heat they seem unsure about it. He's had to leave a few times because he was throwing up.
D - 22-Jul-20 @ 4:29 PM
I work in a factory in Niagara FallsOntario. At what temperature is it to hot to work safely in . Is there any charts that we can refer to.Ty
Parkcy - 8-Jul-20 @ 10:06 PM
Hi I work in a fruit and veg shop and in the winter time it’s so cold in the shop that it’s colder inside than out, as the shop door is open as well as the back door creating a draft one heater is provided at the till but is just a gas flame and doesn’t work well plus during the job I’ll be stocking shelves and stuff so won’t be near the heater, its sometimes is below 0 degrees and my hands turn blue due to the cold what should I do ?
Fey - 4-Jul-20 @ 1:57 AM
I am a support worker, working in a care home, wearing PPE continuously in this heatwave, the sweat is dripping off us all, but we was told today that we are No longer allowed to use fans in communal areas ! ?? Fans are only allowed to be used in clients bedrooms !
Kaz - 24-Jun-20 @ 4:23 PM
I'm working at a company CSI(Consolidated Starch Industries) that makes starch,the starch we make must be dry meaning heat is included...the drying machines has a lot of heat which is 200°C.lot of hazardous there it's too risky. At the same time we don't get heat allowence,no medical to make sure that workers stay healthy ,good condition to work.we really need help
Sotja - 10-Jun-20 @ 8:46 PM
What is the maximum recommended temperature in a hot central kitchen in a tropical country? I am writing from Singapore. Thanks.
Randy Lee - 5-Jun-20 @ 11:05 AM
Hi. I work in dry cleaning and it can get very hot and sticky humid. We do have fans but unless you are standing directly in front or near them they are of no benefit. In the wash room where all cleaning is done the windows dont open, they are sealed closed and no air conditioning or any form of ventilation which leaves us extremely hot and sweaty. My boss is very aware of the conditions but when it is mentioned to him he turns it around and makes a joke of it and laughs. I am pretty sure it exceeds the recommended temperature of 30 degrees . Some staff has made comments about the conditions but says a different comment when the boss is around. Is there anything legal that can be done about this
Nigel - 28-May-20 @ 6:26 PM
Hello there I am renting a service office. My office has got windows but can't open them for any fresh air. They are fixed window. I have air condition in my office but the controls are in my neighbours office. Now the problem is at times in my office when my neighbour puts the temperature to low level, I feel very cold. During winter, when my neighbour puts the heating on I feelvery hot. This is because my neigbour has one vent and I have two in my office. So the cold temperature makes it too cold in summer and hot temperature makes it too hot in winter. Situation is particularly worst when I am working but my neighbour is not available to reduce the temperature accordingly. I have been raising this issue with my land lord since last 2 years.But unfortunately he has not done anything. He is not ready to give access to heating and air condition controls . In absence of these controls and a window which can't be opened it is making very difficult for me and my employees to work at times. Is there anything, I can do legally about it ? Regards Shampa
Shampa - 28-May-20 @ 1:16 PM
Good afternoon, Please between what range of body temperature is a normal person safe. Recently checked a colleague of mine and it was 23 degrees. that can t be normal can it?
Fabby - 25-Mar-20 @ 11:36 AM
I work upstairs in a factory a average room there’s 5tadiator on 8 hours a day and an electric fire under my table I’m so hot it’s making me feel sick I’ve spoke too boss but nothing is done ???? I can’t cope with this is there anything I can do plies there’s only a small window open Not
Cher - 20-Jan-20 @ 8:24 PM
I work for an Irish security guard company and work 12 hour night shifts in a building where the heating is turned off at 16:00 hours. I start at 20:00 hours and it’s freezing all through my shift.There is a little fan heater.Is it legal?
Phil - 16-Jan-20 @ 11:53 PM
To 15 December 2019 @ 1.36PM. In my personal opinion having read your comment, your former employer may not have exercised their 'Duty of Care' to employees, relevant Health & Safety at Work Act etc and could possibly be liable for the injury. I would speak with GP to get treatment, advice and opinion. You may then want to consider talking with Citizens Advice or with a Solicitor who deals with personal injury claims. All the best.
Anon - 15-Dec-19 @ 9:08 PM
Almost 2 years ago I worked at a McDonald’s and there was a time where I worked a double shift they told me to go outside to take orders. It was super hot it was in the 90’s. I spend over twelve hours outside under the sun in the heat I got a lot darker and a bit of a sun burn. But now my skin is marked, obviously it’s darker than the rest of my skin but it has red spots over it and damaged because of my time in the sun even after all this time and my skin starting to bother me now that it’s cold out for the first time in a long time. Was it ok or allowed for them to make me work that long under the heat? I had just turned 18 at the time about 3 months before.
Jasmine V - 15-Dec-19 @ 1:36 PM
I'm a bus driver, how cold does it have to be in the cab for it to be considered unsafe, it's December and the temperature outside is around freezing on most days,I wear thermals under my uniform, the heating on bus is inadequate, the buses are 15 years old.
Raj - 13-Dec-19 @ 11:27 AM
Hi im a maintenance worker and i am being made to jet wash outdoors in cold temperatures (its december in the uk) is this allowed or can i refuse to do this without consequences?
Carl - 5-Dec-19 @ 3:58 PM
Iam heart patient and having high blood pressure issues and iam on medication 4 tabs a day and i work full time at night shift and my employer disconnected all heating in foundry and provide us some thermal clothes now I work in this cold nights and having pain in my heart side they dont provide any heating in work place what I should do ?
Sunny - 5-Dec-19 @ 3:20 AM
Hi I am bus driver and after 1 hour driving temperature in the bus is around 5 Celsius degreethis is legal? Drivers reportedlow temperature but company ignored this.
Jens - 30-Nov-19 @ 12:10 AM
I work in a kitchen and in summer we were reaching temperatures of 39-40°c away from the equipment. Now it's winter we are.currently at 11-12°c and it's only going to get colder. We have 1 heater, no windows and a extractor fan that pretty much only works on the 2 highest settings. We shouldn't be wearing hoodies on shift but me and another girl have to under our whites as it is too cold. Any suggestions to help? Please
Morrigan - 21-Nov-19 @ 4:23 PM
I would like to know how to create enough of a media stink to stop Supermarkets making their staff work in inhumane conditions in the open freezer sections. Like most shoppers I hate the freezer section it's so cold I can't think! But I can leave the shop. The staff have to work 8 hours in arctic conditions this is 2019! I'm sorry but that isn't ok. Also open supermarket fridges contribute 1% of Britain's carbon emissions. I wrote to a CEO and got fobbed off because I am merely one person singing in the dark. Our workers deserve better....alot better! What can I do? At present I don't even tweet but I can learn. Thank you for listening
Dissapointed Custome - 22-Sep-19 @ 7:56 AM
Hi I'm a security guard working nights. I've just refused to do my last patrol due to the air con being left on constantly on the floors. It's freezing. It's taking affect across the whole building and I'm sitting in the basement with a blanket and hot water bottle to keep warm. I cannot stand being cold and I believe air con should be on timers. It's been left on cause the office workers are too warm when they arrive for work. Well I'm a member of staff and I don't want it on all night cause then I'm uncomfortable and find it hard to work.
Sam - 1-Aug-19 @ 4:32 AM
Hi I'm a security guard working nights. I've just refused to do my last patrol due to the air con being left on constantly on the floors. It's freezing. It's taking affect across the whole building and I'm sitting in the basement with a blanket and hot water bottle to keep warm. I cannot stand being cold and I believe air con should be on timers. It's been left on cause the office workers are too warm when they arrive for work. Well I'm a member of staff and I don't want it on.
Sam - 1-Aug-19 @ 4:30 AM
Thursday I was working in a nursing home the temp outside reached 38 and upstairs it was 36 it was not good for residents and staff were feeling dizzy yesterday the temperature in the building was 32 something needs to be done for care home its disgusting
Shireen - 27-Jul-19 @ 3:04 PM
During the heatwave yesterday 25/7/19 I worked in a nursing home caring for 17 high dependency individuals. The temperature outside was 38°C at the hottest time, inside the nursing home it was 33°C. I told my manager we needed extra fans however they did not bring any in until 9pm at night after we had completed our 13 hour shift. I think it’s disgusting that there is no one holding private care home owners accountable for maintaining a safe working environment for staff during the hot summer months (let alone the residents for which we care). I also think it’s disgusting that there is no safe maximum temperature laws in this country. how can we look after our elderly and vulnerable when managers don’t look after their staff.
Dani - 26-Jul-19 @ 9:51 PM
I work in a store and the ac is not working properly, girls are sat on tills profusely sweating and feeling ill, is there anything we can do about it.
Fiery - 25-Jul-19 @ 5:44 PM
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