Friday, July 22, 2011

Must employers keep workers cool?

While there are guidelines for workplace temperatures in Massachusetts, there are few requirements, such as the requirement that workplaces be heated from Oct 15 to May 15. [See Mass GL c 149, s 13.] Proper heat ranges vary but here is what they look like (in degrees Fahrenheit): Foundaries, 50-60; Factories, 60-62; Machine shops, 60-62; Public buildings, 60-68; Restaurants, 62-66; Warehouses, 62-65; Theaters, 62-65; Stores, 65; Offices, 66-68; and Schools, 66-68 [Source: Your rights on the job, 5e, by Robert Schwartz (Labor Guild of Boston, c 2008), pg. 38.] Although it appears as if there's an upper "limit," those ranges apply between Oct 15 and May 15. No law or regulation requires employers to provide air conditioning for their employees if temperatures exceed that upper limit during the summer. If temperatures in a workplace become unbearable, making the working conditions unhealthy or unsafe, workers can complain to the local board of health or to OSHA. To find out how to file a complaint with OSHA, link to To read Mass GL c 149, s 113 at