Maximum temperature limits needed in law for all workplaces

18 July 2022

Labour Party Senator and spokesperson for Employment Affairs, Marie Sherlock. has today (Monday, 18th July) called for the immediate introduction of legally defined maximum temperature limits for outdoor and indoor work in Ireland as we face the likelihood of increased summer temperatures.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Temperatures hitting in excess of 30 degrees may feel like a one off novelty for Ireland, however the reality is that for certain workers, these temperatures are very difficult to work in for office-based workers in the absence of adequate ventilation, air conditioning and particularly for outdoor workers in the absence of easily available water and shade.

“Climate change in Ireland means there is a greater probability of prolonged periods of extreme heat with weather warnings likely to be an increased feature of working life in Ireland, especially in the summer. We believe maximum temperature limits must be considered as a matter of real urgency by the Government.

“Many of our offices and workplaces are largely unprepared to deal with extreme temperature highs compared to other countries with generally hotter climates. The experience of covid has highlighted the very patchy availability of good ventilation and air improvement measures across workplaces.

“Member States in the EU currently have no united approach. In Germany, a workplace has a normal maximum temperature of 26°C. In Spain, a maximum temperature is set at 27°C for work spaces. Although in both countries there are conditions where these limits can be breached. Several jurisdictions have a definite maximum working temperature of 30°C in law for indoor work and this maximum has been proposed by the European Trade Union Congress as a possible EU wide limit. That could be a place for the Irish Government to start.”

She added: “If we are to ultimately learn any lessons and live with these increasing temperatures we must have robust legislation to govern, to regulate this area and incentivise the creation of good jobs. This will ensure the right to a healthy working environment is protected and that employers have sensible guidelines to adhere to. In the current heatwave, I would call upon employers to certainly consider if work can be temporarily paused or completed, where possible remotely or at home, if temperatures reach uncomfortable and physically stressful levels over the coming days and weeks.”

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