Lately a heat wave was going through Poland - with temperatures over 30 degrees. In these conditions, office work can be troublesome, especially when employers and the employees themselves will not take care of their comfort and safety. Temperature at the workplace influences effectiveness, mood and health of the worker – admits Wojciech Dyląg, spokesman for the Regional Work Inspectorate in Kraków. In extreme cases, it can be life-threatening. If it greatly differs from the optimum (comfortable), it renders the work less effective, troublesome and even bad for the health.
Water and diet
High temperatures impose more tasks on the employers. They have to provide the workers with a suitable amount of cold beverages. They have to be available during all work shifts, in the amount that will satisfy worker's needs. Beverages should also be provided for the employees working outside, when the temperature is over 25°C, and for the workers which work in the places when temperature, caused by weather conditions, excesses 28°C – explains Wojciech Dyląg. The experts advise to, during a normal day, drink about 1.5 l of water, and during the heat - even 3 litres. Instead of plain water, we can drink tea (some people advise to add salt, which will keep fluid balance of the body) or water with some additions, for example lemon and mint. It is also important to watch one's diet, and instead of eating fat, heavy dishes choose lighter ones and fruit and vegetables, such as watermelons and cucumbers, which have a lot of water in them. During the heat, appetite is often low, but you should take care to eat regular meals.
In an office you can cope with the heat by using air-conditioning. It is, however, a bit troublesome - high temperature disparities can lead to a sickness. Specialists advise that maximum difference of temperatures inside and outside should be about 6°C. Employers often decide to install ventilation and air-conditioning systems to provide optimum temperature. It is important to remember, that the systems should be kept clean and in running order. Air stream, coming from the equipment, must not create drafts. It also should not be aimed directly at the work station – says Wojciech Dyląg. The employer should also provide the room and workplaces with protection from excessive heating, for example using roller blinds and normal blinds – he adds. There are also solar films on the market. They lower the temperature and allow for having optimum light permeability.
Vacation during the heat
The employer can order additional breaks or shorten work time. These solutions cannot cause a pay cut – stresses the spokesman. Workers have the right to be moved to a colder room. They can also decide to go on vacation when the temperature is so high it can endanger their health.
The employers have to remember their obligations concerning employees, because there are fines in the case of not following the law. According to the article number 283. § 1 of Polish Labour Code, if the person responsible for occupational safety and health, managing employees or natural persons, does not abide by laws or principles of occupational safety and health, can be charged with a fine ranging from 1,000 zł to 30,000 zł. A fine from 1,000 zł to 5,000 zł can be imposed by the Work Inspectorate. The upper limit is reserved for the Court – explains Wojciech Dyląg.
If the workers considers their laws to be broken, they can file a complaint at their proper Regional Work Inspectorate.