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Our office windows don't open. What should our employer do about temperature?
Your employer is expected to prevent your workplace being uncomfortably hot. There are many steps which employers may take to assess risk and provide more comfortable working during hot weather. These include:
- providing adequate ventilation and fans (although above 27°C, fans are ineffective at cooling the air);
- providing portable air cooling cabinets, which may reduce the air temperature by up to 6°C;
- providing properly designed ventilation – air conditioning will be most effective – and ensuring it is properly maintained so it does not break down in the middle of a heat wave;
- reducing heat gain via windows by reflective film or blinds and by reducing the window area, and moving desks and workstations away from windows; and
- allowing staff to dress appropriately for hot weather, e.g. allowing ties, tights or jackets to be removed or shorts to be worn.
If it is impossible to provide a comfortable air temperature, or as a temporary measure until a permanent solution is put in place, employers can reduce staff exposure to hot work. This can be done through frequent rest breaks in a cool area where cold drinks are provided, job rotation or altering work during the hottest part of the day.