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Heating at the office – winter work safety in Hungary

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Heating at the office – winter work safety in Hungary

While fall is warm and mild this year, we are already in the season where heaters will inevitably be switched on all over Hungary. Since temperature is an essential element of an appropriate working environment, heating at the office will play an important role in the health as well as the productivity of your employees.

Expected temperature at the workplace

The Hungarian work health and safety law stipulates that temperature at the workplace must be appropriate to the type of work and the physical exertion that goes with it. Heating season is from 15 October to 15 April, and in cold months the temperatures to be achieved by heating are as follows:

intellectual / sedentary work20-22°C
light physical work18-20°C
medium difficulty physical work14-18°C
heavy physical work12-14°C

(If you want to learn more about expected workplace temperature in summer, click here.)

Law defines these types of work very scientifically, based on energy output expressed in kJ/hour, but they practically refer to how much time an employee spends sitting or standing up, walking around, and lifting objects (also considering the weight of those objects to be lifted, and any need for protective clothing). Office work is typically considered sedentary.

Temperature is supposed to be measured regularly. The thermometer should be placed at a height of 0.5m from the ground in the case of sedentary jobs, and at 1m in the case of physical work.

Humidity is not specified by law, but it affects apparent temperature. Experts suggest that humidity should be around 40-55% for office jobs. Keep in mind that heating dries the air, and winter air is also quite dry, so airing the office does not help. This can be mitigated by adding a humidifier to the equipment or bringing in some plants to keep office humidity more balanced.

Heating at the office during the state of emergency

Last year a new regulation commanded attention instructing public institutions not to heat their rooms above 18°C. The decree is supposed to be in force until the end of the state of emergency, which was extended until 25 November 2023 last time. (Further extensions are still possible.)

The regulation does not affect private enterprises, however, so your office or shop is still required to be heated in line with HSE regulations.

Set a temperature that is suitable for the work

The regulations were created to ensure that your employees remain healthy as well as productive. If most of your employees perform sedentary work, the expected temperature at the office is 20-22°C during working hours. At the same time, it is important that your employees feel comfortable while working, so discussion of the options for heating at the office is encouraged.

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