Is There an Acceptable Temperature Range for Workplaces?

Summer weather will be here soon, and I am frequently asked about the heat and temperature levels for workplaces. Temperature is a legitimate issue in determining workplace safety. A particular concern is heat stress.

While there are no set minimum or maximum temperatures for most workplaces, there are a few with specific requirements, because either extreme heat or cold may be a hazard.

In health care facilities or an industrial establishment, (such as a factory, store, workshop or office), the OHSA regulations set a minimum temperature of 18 °C, subject to some exemptions for things like work outdoors or in freezers.

The construction projects regulation specifies a maximum of 38 °C for work chambers [Section 384].

Generally, workplaces that are not air-conditioned or outside should use the following levels to determine when or if work should be stopped:

(Humidex refers to the combination of heat and humidity levels to determine how hot it “feels”.)

Humidex of 30 to 33: Monitor for signs of Heat Stress and encourage drinking water

Humidex of 34 to 37: Monitor for signs of Heat Stress. Employees should be given a 5-minute heat break every hour and encouraged to increase water intake during heat breaks. Consider moving work to areas that are air conditioned.

Humidex of 38 to 39: Monitor for signs of Heat Stress. Employees should only be permitted to work 45 minutes per hour and are instructed to drink a full bottle of water during heat breaks which should be taken in areas that are air conditioned. Consider moving work to areas that are air conditioned

Humidex of 40 to 42: Monitor for signs of Heat Stress. Employees should only be permitted to work 30 minutes per hour and are instructed to drink a full bottle of water during heat breaks which should be taken in areas that are air conditioned. Consider moving work to areas that are air conditioned

Humidex of 43 to 44: Employees are restricted to 15 minutes of work per hour during this period. Consideration should be given to stopping work – employees may be sent home and/or the next shift might not be scheduled

Humidex of over 45: STOP WORK

For more information you can visit these other Resources:

Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety for information on workplace temperatures

Air Quality Ontario for information on Smog & Heat Alerts

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