Workers who experience prolonged exposure to freezing cold temperatures may develop frostbite or hypothermia, while individuals who work in a hot environment could suffer heat stroke and exhaustion. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, issues guidelines for safe working temperatures to protect workers.
OSHA makes recommendations to employers about safety in cold-temperature environments in the form of Cold Stress Cards. These cards offer safety tips that include learning the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries, wearing proper clothing for cold-weather conditions and scheduling work during the warmest part of the day. OSHA also encourages employers to make sure that cold temperature environments and workplaces are free from dangerous conditions.
Certain workplace environments, such as commercial kitchens, mining sites, bakeries and rubber production factories, expose workers to high temperatures. OSHA issues safety guidelines and recommendations for high temperature environments. They include drinking plenty of water, understanding how to prevent heat stress and taking frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
OSHA doesn’t regulate indoor temperatures and humidity since they are a matter of personal comfort. OSHA supports recommendations from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Standard 55 for thermal environmental conditions within an office setting. This standard offers recommendations for air temperature ranges that will not make the workers too hot or too cold.