Health and Safety (Temperatures)
Work and Pensions
Sarah Teather (Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Education & Skills; Brent East, Liberal Democrat)
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
(1) what guidance the Health and Safety Executive has issued on the acceptable minimum and maximum temperatures in (a) primary and (b) secondary school classrooms;
(2) what guidance the Health and Safety Executive has issued on minimum and maximum temperatures on school buses.
Anne McGuire (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Disabled People), Department for Work and Pensions; Stirling, Labour)
I shall answer both of these questions together and would also refer the hon. Member to the responses given to her questions to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require employers to provide reasonable working temperatures for employees in indoor workplaces, including those working in schools. The Regulations are accompanied by an Approved Code of Practice and guidance.
Since April 2005, the HSE has made available general guidance on temperatures and thermal comfort for all indoor workplaces on the HSE website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/thermal/index.htm. This guidance applies to employees and staff working in schools, but excludes transport such as school buses.
Minimum temperatures for classrooms are given as 18ºC in the Education (School Premises) Regulations, SI No2, 1999, which are a responsibility of the Department for Education and Skills. DfES has recently issued guidance about maximum and minimum temperatures in classrooms on the popular questions website: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/popularquestions/ This explains that:
"heat stress and dehydration can be serious problems at temperatures above 35ºC so that should be regarded as the maximum reasonable temperature for prolonged periods of time in school classrooms. This temperature is above comfort temperatures but healthy children should be able to cope with this if they are given generous supplies of cool water to drink. More sensitive children may experience problems at much lower temperatures and staff need to watch for signs of heat stress at temperatures above 28ºC."
We are not aware of any specific guidance issued in respect of temperatures in school buses.