Working environment

Physical working environment

How cold or hot can it be in your workplace and does your employer have to pay for computer glasses? Learn more about your rights and the most common physical working environment issues in the workplace.

Without a good physical working environment, you don't have the necessary conditions to do your job to the best of your ability, and you may even be at risk of accidents.

That's why your workplace must comply with the rules and recommendations for the physical working environment laid out by the Danish Working Environment Authority (Arbejdstilsynet).

Do you work at home? Get answers to the most frequently asked questions about working from home with our FAQ

Temperature: how cold or hot can it be in the workplace?

In an office, the Danish Working Environment Authority normally recommends that the temperature is around 20-22 degrees Celsius. 

However, in light of the energy crisis, the Danish Energy Agency has recommended since September 2022 that the temperature be lowered to 19 degrees in both public and private workplaces.

For example, if you work in a laboratory or production centre, the workplace is responsible for regulating the temperature so that you can do your job. If the temperature cannot be regulated, the workplace is responsible for finding alternative solutions to protect you from the cold or heat. 

If you have a problem with the temperature at your workplace, you can go to your manager or your trade union representative. You should also mention it when filling in the annual workplace assessment (APV).  

Air and ventilation: what are the rules?

You have the right to an adequate supply of fresh air without draughts in your workplace. If sufficient fresh air cannot be supplied naturally, the workplace must have some form of ventilation system. 

Ventilation systems must be designed and located to avoid noise and draughts.

If you work with processes that develop harmful air, smoke, aerosols, odours or other air pollution, your workplace has a duty to provide a mechanical extraction device to purify the air. The purification must remove the pollution and provide fresh air.

There are no rules about how often you can or should air out an office. If you are repeatedly bothered by draughts because a colleague opens the window, discuss it with your colleague or manager so that you can make rules for ventilation that meet everyone's needs in the office. 

Lighting: what should the lighting be like in the workplace?

The lighting in your workplace should be designed so that both work and movement in the workplace are safe and appropriate.

Arbejdstilsynet recommends that workplaces are illuminated with both natural daylight and artificial lighting. Artificial lighting must not bother you, for example because it dazzles, reflects in your monitor or causes annoying heat. 

If you work at a screen, disruptive reflections from the windows can be avoided by positioning the screen perpendicular to the light.

If you experience problems with lighting in your workplace, you can go to your manager or your trade union representative. You should also mention it when filling in the annual workplace assessment (APV).  

Noise: How much noise is allowed in the workplace?

Occupational health and safety legislation distinguishes between harmful noise (which does not exceed 85 dB) and disturbance.

Disturbances include talking, phones ringing and common noises associated with work that can disturb those nearby. This is particularly a problem in open plan offices.

If you experience disruptions, we recommend that you try to find solutions with your colleagues or your immediate manager. Solutions might include setting up areas of the workplace where you can focus, having shared focus or quiet time at work, or having rules for conversations, meetings and noise in the main office. You may also be given the opportunity to work at home when you need to focus.

With regard to harmful noise, your workplace is obliged to avoid unnecessary noise nuisance. This means that noise levels must be kept as low as technically possible and acoustic conditions must be well thought out. When assessing whether the noise at your workplace is unnecessary, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are good industry practices being followed? 
  • Have effective means been used to reduce noise from machinery?
  • Is the equipment that makes noise properly maintained?
  • Are noisy and non-noisy work areas separated?

According to Arbejdstilsynet, you must not be exposed to noise levels above 85 dB (equivalent to the noise of a hair dryer) for more than 8 hours. If the noise level is higher, you may only be exposed for a limited period.

Screen work: what am I entitled to?

If you work at a screen more than two days a week on average in a month, your manager must provide a workplace that meets the following requirements:

  • The symbols on the screen are clear
  • Brightness and contrast can be adjusted
  • The screen must be able to rotate and tilt
  • The screen must not be affected by reflections and glare.
  • Your keyboard should be separated from the screen so you can change working positions.
  • Your table should be adjustable to your height.

The keyboard you type at should be separated from the screen so you can change your working position. 

Your chair should be stable and provide freedom of movement and ergonomic support. The chair seat should be adjustable in height and the back should be able to be tilted. In addition, you should be able to adjust both the seat tilt and the seat depth.

You have the right to ensure that the software and applications you use are appropriate for the work you do and are easy to use.

Does your workplace have to pay for computer glasses?

Yes, your workplace must pay for your computer glasses if you suddenly experience problems or eye strain at work.  

The employer chooses which optician or ophthalmologist will carry out the examination. As a rule, you are entitled to a standard pair of glasses or contact lenses, at no cost to you.

You have the right to be examined at regular intervals during your employment.

What surface can I work on?

Whether you work in an office or in a workplace where you are on the move (e.g. warehouse, laboratory, etc.), your workplace must ensure that you can move around freely without the risk of falling.

This means, among other things, that the floor must be kept clear of cables, clutter and other things you might fall over, and that the surface must be slip-resistant. If it is not possible to provide a completely non-slip surface, it is your employer's duty to ensure that you are provided with non-slip shoes, as this is part of the personal protective equipment that it is your employer's duty to provide you with.

Get assistance in securing a good physical working environment

If you have problems or challenges with the working environment at your workplace, your immediate manager or your health and safety representative should step in.

If you need further advice on the physical working environment, you can contact Arbejdstilsynet.

Contact the Working Life Authority's via their website,

Read IDA's guide on health and safety representatives here. (TBA)