thermometer showing a temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit

Workplace Temperature Debate Heats Up in Britain

The Health and Safety Executive seeks comments at a stakeholder forum this week in London as it reviews the issue and IOSH queries its 35,000 members.

IOSH, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, posted a survey Tuesday asking its 35,000 members whether they favor maximum upper temperature limits for British workplaces. Survey responses are due by July 27; the survey is meant to assist Britain's safety enforcement agency, the Health and Safety Executive, which will hold a stakeholder forum tomorrow to consider arguments for and against setting temperature limits. HSE Chief Executive Geoffrey Podger will open the forum in London.

HSE began a review of the temperature issue on July 3 at the request of the Secretary of State. HSE also launched a new Temperature Web site on June 30.

Forum participants will discuss whether legislation and guidance are up to date with the nature of workplaces and working patterns; whether there should be minimum but not maximum recommended working temperatures; whether more can be done to address the effects, including seasonal variations, on outdoor workers; and best practices, such as access to drinking water for workers exposed to high temperatures.

The IOSH survey asks members whether workplace temperatures are of concern to their organizations, whether they are aware of current HSE guidance or any other guidance on the management of workplace temperatures, how their industries currently manage workplace temperatures, and how they'd be affected if a maximum temperature were set (noting that the Trades Union Congress, the British equivalent of the AFL-CIO, is calling a maximum of 30°C -- 86 degrees F -- with 27°C -- 80.6 degrees F -- applying to anyone involved in strenuous work). IOSH is based in Leicestershire, England.

On IOSH's discussion forums, two posts indicate disapproval of setting maximum temperatures for workplaces. "[A] limit on upper temperature? absolutely no chance. Working in an industrial bakery no matter what we do and the good systems already in place, temperature won't be anywhere 30 C. I am all in favour to reduce as much as possible," one commenter wrote. Another wrote, "Working in an industry which involves hot processes where maintenance and inspection activities may have to involve entry in to hot and/or confined spaces and where I believe awareness, assessment, management and controls are suitable and sufficient I would have to say no. Does any one have any examples of work where they would see the benefit of an upper temperature limit, which cannot already be appropriately managed by the quite comprehensive guidance already around?"

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