A number of people have been in touch recently regarding Ian Mearns MP’s Early Day Motion calling for a statutory maximum workplace temperature. As an opposition whip I am unable to sign EDMs but I wanted to share my thoughts on this issue.
I know that a number of organisations, including several trade unions, have campaigned on this issue for a number of years. As the Trades Union Congress has stated, high temperature is a significant health issue and can cause dizziness, fainting and heat cramps, as well as increasing the risk of heat stroke or collapse. It can also lead to loss of concentration and increased tiredness, making workers more likely to put themselves or others at risk. I therefore agree that this is an important issue.
In 2009 the Labour government asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to review the case for a maximum workplace temperature. While the report that the HSE produced was inconclusive, the government at the time stated that it was still actively considering the issue of a maximum temperature. However, in the last Parliament the coalition government stated that it had no plans to set a maximum temperature and the current Conservative government continues to argue that existing legislation and guidance on this issue is sufficient.
Prior to the 2015 general election my shadow frontbench colleagues committed to a review of excessive workplace temperatures and I believe that the government should consider such a review. In the meantime, I note that employers have a duty under the current regulations to ensure that workplaces remain at a reasonable temperature and to consult with employees and their representatives to establish sensible measures to cope with hot weather.