River Wissey Lovell Fuller


September 2003

Work Place Conditions?


Whilst Many of us enjoyed the August heatwave, lots of working people suffered due to poor conditions at their place of employment. The TUC threatened to get involved in pushing for legislation to put a ceiling temperature over which nobody should be expected to work, but no doubt once the cooler weather returns, it will be forgotten until next year.

It seems extraordinary to me that there is a legally low temperature under which workers may stop work (13 degrees - 16 degrees C dependent on the job), but that there is no maximum. A poll of 650 employers said that 90% of them would welcome an upper limit but then they would say that wouldn't they? My experience over a long working life was that they made sure that there was sufficient heating to prevent walk-outs due to cold but made no attempt to provide any cooling equipment for hot weather conditions. I worked for many years in an office with a pitched glass roof under which temperatures could soar to 40 degrees C during hot spells. Apart from being most uncomfortable, it was also difficult to work - perspiration made it almost impossible to hold a pen whilst computers went on the blink repeatedly. Freestanding air-conditioning units would have solved the problem, made the staff more efficient, and kept up the morale, at not a great deal of cost. I am sure that my experiences are typical of many companies and I cannot understand company owners not investing in their staff's comfort - after all, they benefit due to greater efficiency and output.

So let us hope this time that the TUC will continue to lobby for a maximum temperature above which nobody should be expected to work. It is a totally reasonable demand, and I trust and hope that it will be in place by the summer of next year - but I bet it won't!

Graham Forster

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