Summer sweatshops a worry as temperatures rise
‘ The new law is better overall, but it used to be clearer.’ JOHN CROCKER, COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS
AS offices heat up thanks to the summer swelter, unions are planning on asking for the law to stipulate what constitutes ‘‘comfort’’ in the workplace.
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions health and safety policy analyst John Crocker says workers should complain about the temperature if they are uncomfortable, and shouldn’t wait until they are too cold, too hot, or unwell.
WorkSafe still refers to some 1992 Occupational Safety and Health guidelines about how hot is too hot, but it recommends workplace temperatures be between 19 and 24 degrees Celsius in summer, and between 18C and 22C in winter.
Crocker said current health and safety laws were broader than previously on employers’ responsibilities to provide a suitable and sufficient working environment. The unions want to see what constitutes ‘‘comfort’’ spelled out more specifically when the law is reviewed in 2020.
‘‘The new law is better overall, but it used to be clearer.’’
AWorkSafe spokeswoman said employers had a legal obligation to identify risks in the workplace and mitigate them. That included considering the effects of heat and cold, which was aboutmore than just a temperature.
Crocker said that even if a building’s temperature dial seemed to be set at the right level, there would be variations throughout the property that needed to be dealt with.
Younger people tended to be less sensitive to the cold than older workers. And some people had health issues that meant they weremore susceptible to the conditions.