Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie has today called for a maximum workplace temperature to be introduced.
At present UK government guidance suggests a minimum of 16ºC or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work but there’s no guidance for a maximum temperature limit. Instead employers just have to commit to "keeping the temperature at a comfortable level".
However a report from the TUC suggests that short of someone actually being injured or killed it's unlikely to actually be enforced, despite excessive temperatures being associated with a loss of concentration, increased accidents, falling productivity and risks to health.
The TUC and Willie Rennie are now calling for a maximum working temperature of 30 degrees Celsius, or 27 degrees Celsius for those doing strenuous work beyond which employers would have a statutory duty to introduce effective control measures, such as installing ventilation or moving staff away from windows and sources of heat., in line with WHO recommendations for maximum temperatures for working in comfort. Mr Rennie has also filed a parliamentary motion which urges Scottish ministers to raise the issue with their UK counterparts.
Mr Rennie said:
“Unfortunately, high temperatures are only going to become more common so the faster we think about adaptation the better.
“High temperatures are clearly a concern for workers and workplace representatives alike. They lead to more accidents and falling productivity so reducing them can be a win-win.
“Introducing a maximum workplace temperature and a duty for bosses to take action to keep their workers cool would be a sensible and humane step.
“From increasing ventilation to moving staff away from sources of heat, there are simple steps which can be taken to make workspaces a more pleasant place.
“I would like to see Scottish ministers take this issue up with their UK counterparts to see what can be done to give this legal force.”