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published: 23 Jan 2019 in Work

Chilly at work? Employers, do not let your workers freeze

Joanna Czarnecka
Joanna Czarnecka

Editor

Sub-zero temperatures in winter surprise no one in Poland but what if the cold weather affects your productivity and keeps you from getting your job done? First things first, get yourself a cup of tea, put your scarf on and make sure that your workplace complies with all health and safety regulations.

Occupational Health and Safety

Państwowa Inspekcja Pracy (The National Labour Inspectorate) is an authority responsible for the regulation and enforcement of Polish labour law and occupational health and safety policies (called BHP - Bezpieczeństwo i Higiena Pracy). The regulations impose requirements on employers regarding safe and healthy workplace environment. It is the employer's duty to maintain comfortable working conditions, including a proper room temperature.

Working indoors

Employers should ensure that the temperature provided in the workplace is suitable for the type of work being carried out. According to the Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 26 September 1997, the minimum temperature in an office should not be lower than 18 degrees Celsius. What is the ideal temperature for desk workers then? Although the optimal conditions are not specified by health and safety regulations, most experts agree that a room temperature of around 20-22 degrees is most comfortable in winter.

If the performed work requires more physical effort (for example in production halls), the temperature should be at least 14 degrees Celsius, unless it is not feasible for technical reasons (for instance, due to being carried out in a cold room).

Working outdoors

Extra precautions should be taken from November till the end of March to protect outdoor workers from cold weather. If the temperature outside drops below 10 degrees Celsius, employees should be provided with protective clothing, warm beverages and energy-boosting meals (when energy expenditure exceeds 1500 calories by men and 1000 calories by women). Also, outdoor workers need to have access to a room where they can change or warm up during the day. Its temperature should not be lower than 16 degrees Celsius.

What if it is too cold?

If your workplace is indeed freezing, you should first report the problem to your supervisor or manager, since they might not even be aware of the issue. As stated by the Chief Labour Inspectorate, the body has the authority to conduct a workplace inspection following an employee's complaint. The Inspectorate notes that in most cases, a single inspection suffices to solve the problem. Employers who do not comply with the above-mentioned regulations may face a fine from 1000 PLN to up to 5000 PLN.

How to survive winter in Poland?

Read our tips!

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