The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was formed in 1971 to oversee offices, work places and businesses. OSHA has created regulations, rules, recommendations and guidelines to help create the safest environment for American workers. Here are OSHA regulations (recommendations) for United States office temperatures.
“What is the Best Temperature for My Office?”
OSHA’s mission is to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” Dusty warehouses, slaughterhouses, computer data centers and urban offices all have vastly different work environments. Most computers require a lower temperature to work at peak performance. Workers will also be wearing different protective clothing in hospitals, semiconductor factories and restaurants.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) or Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) can include temperature, humidity, ventilation and chemical exposure. OSHA has received many complaints over unpleasant odors, humid conditions or toxic fumes in work spaces. These can lead to serious health problems, like asthma.
It is not necessarily possible for each company to adhere exactly to OSHA stipulations. That is why OSHA has created “recommendations,” rather than “regulations” for office temperatures. This guidance is intended to maximize human comfort in the setting of the office temperature. Under Section III, Chapter 2, Subsection of OSHA Technical Manual, the optimum ambient temperature for an office should be between 68 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
“What should workers do if they suspect a workplace violation?”
If employees feel tired, get headaches or have shortness of breath while working, they should try to determine the specific cause. Is it airborne, in the carpets or isolated to a certain room? Talking informally to your boss is the first step. Then, discuss the issue with a doctor if it continues.
Modern handheld devices allow technicians to read room air temperatures. They can determine the indoor air flow for heating and cooling. This can help workers establish the best setting for the heating ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) equipment in the building.
If an employee wants to contact OSHA for possible violations, they can qualify under whistleblower statutes and regulations. These prevent a violating employer from penalizing employees for complaints.