Keeping workers warm in a cold snap

Keeping workers warm in a cold snap

Published: January 16th, 2024

With temperatures struggling to get above zero this week, the Marches Growth Hub is keen to remind businesses of the need to look after their workers. 

Keeping workers safe is an employer’s responsibility, and it’s important to take falling temperatures into account. Is your workplace too cold, and are you providing the right equipment to allow staff to work properly? 

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 only obliges employers to provide a “reasonable” temperature in indoor workplaces, but the Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice suggests the minimum temperature should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius – at least 13 degrees Celsius if the work involves rigorous physical effort. 

For outdoor work, employees should be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment, and firms should offer facilities where workers can warm up and make hot drinks. 

In extreme weather, delaying the task until the cold snap is over might be the best option. 

John Rowe, head of operational strategy at HSE, said: “There are lots of jobs that will be more difficult in these conditions. Most employers will recognise this and make appropriate accommodations for their staff. That is the right thing to do. 

“People working in uncomfortably cold environments are less likely to perform well and more likely to behave unsafely because their ability to make good decisions deteriorates.” 

He added: “Complying with the code of practice is the right thing for an employer to do. By maintaining a reasonable temperature, employers are likely to maintain the morale and productivity of their staff as well as improving health and safety.” 

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