Staff should be sent home if workplace gets hotter than 30C, says MP

Posted on - July 19, 2016

Check out this article from today’s Telegraph News

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Labour MP Linda Riordan is pushing for a law which would require bosses to send home staff if the temperature in a workplace exceeds 30C, or 27C for those doing strenuous work.

As Britain swelters in a heatwave expected to see thermometers hit 32C today, a group of MPs is pushing for a law requiring bosses to send staff home if workplaces get hotter than 30C.

The proposal is contained in a parliamentary early-day motion tabled by Labour MP Linda Riordan, which has attracted the signatures of 17 MPs since being tabled earlier this week.

The motion warns that employees in workplaces ranging from industrial bakeries to school classrooms are often subjected to temperatures which can “impact seriously on their health and well-being”.

Consequences of overheated factories and offices can include “discomfort, stress, irritability and headaches …extra strain on the heart and lungs, dizziness and fainting and heat cramps due to loss of water and salt”, and the resulting reduction in alertness and attention spans can contribute to workplace accidents and fatalities, said Ms Riordan.

An official code of practice introduced in 1992 as part of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations states that workplace temperatures should not normally drop below 16C – or 13C if the work involves severe physical effort.

But there is no suggested maximum limit, with the guidelines stating only that “all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature”.

The TUC has backed a legal maximum temperature of 30C – or 27C for those doing strenuous work – and Ms Riordan’s motion urges the Government to adopt these levels in law.

The Halifax MP said ministers should “resolve uncertainty for employers about their duty to combat excessive heat in the workplace by introducing a maximum working workplace temperature of 30C (86F) and of 27C (81F) for those doing strenuous work”.

The motion has been signed by 12 Labour backbenchers, two SDLP MPs and one MP each from the Liberal Democrats, DUP and Plaid Cymru.

Early day motions are not debated on the floor of the house and have no prospect of becoming law, but provide an indication of the level of concern about an issue among MPs.

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