Maximum workplace temperature

Thank you for contacting me about excessive temperatures in the workplace.

As a former director of a construction business, I am proud of the fact the UK now has a world-beating health and safety regime, which provides protection for workers while also ensuring employers are not burdened by excessive regulations. Thanks to the hard work of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in simplifying regulations and removing unnecessary requirements, businesses have been boosted and workers have never been safer.

As you may be aware, the law does not state a minimum or maximum workplace temperature, though the indoor temperature should normally be at least 16°C (13°C if the work requires rigorous physical effort). The HSE and Local Authorities regulate workplaces to assess compliance with health & safety legislation. They also rigorously investigate complaints about working conditions, including excessively high (or low) temperatures. HSE targets its interventions on workplaces in higher risk sectors, such as foundries and bakeries, where high temperatures can be a concern. Inspectors can take immediate enforcement action to improve conditions should problems be identified.

A meaningful maximum figure cannot be given due to the high temperatures found in, for example, glass works or foundries. In such environments it is still possible to work safely provided appropriate controls and protections are present. If a significant number of employees complain about a high temperature, responsible employers will carry out risk assessments and act on the results. While I understand your concern that there is no legal maximum, I do not believe that setting a universal temperature ceiling across the board is the best way to manage the issue. There is extensive guidance on the HSE website on this topic, including advice on heat stress, and on the practical steps that employers can take to manage risk. HSE has also simplified this guidance to make it easier to use by small and medium sized enterprises.

In common with many MPs, I do not routinely sign EDMs as they are very expensive to administer and very rarely progress to become legislation. However I will monitor any parliamentary debate upon this issue.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.