The lowest temperatures of 2014 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland were recorded during the Christmas and New Year period, with Katesbridge, County Down, hitting -8.8C (16.2F). Benson, Oxon, fell to -7.6C with -6.7C at Pembrey Sands, Dyfed.
But whilst the Met Office are now only showing a Level 1 weather warning it could very easily change if the weather turns bad.
How does the weather effect your business?
Whilst the cold weather can easily effect the day to day operations of your business, it can also provide a challenge of keeping employee morale high, because no one really likes working in the cold, do we?
The law does not state a minimum temperature for the workplace, but it is noted the temperature in the workplace should normally be at least (this depends):
- 16°C, or
- 13°C if much of the work is physical.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 lay down particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment. Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:
‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’
However, the application of the regulation depends on the nature of the workplace, such as a bakery, a cold store, an office, a warehouse.
Employers and employees should note that where HSE does not have specific guidance ie working in temperatures below 12°C, compliance with British/European Standards ensures you are working to the minimum standard expected. As a first point of reference in these circumstances employers/employees are advised to refer to the following British Standards:
- BS EN 511: Specification for protective gloves against cold
- ISO 13732-3 Ergonomics of the thermal environment – Touching of cold surfaces Part 3. Ergonomics data and guidance for application
- BS 7915: 1998 Ergonomics of the thermal environment : Guide to design and evaluation of working practices for cold indoor environments
- ISO 11079 Evaluation of cold environments – Determination of required clothing insulation (IREQ)
- ISO 15743 Ergonomics of the thermal environment – cold workplaces – risk assessment and management
The standards named are not an exhaustive list but provide a basis from which to formulate a risk assessment strategy and to start managing the problem.
You may need to refer to additional standards but this will be dependant on your operational circumstances.