Air-conditioning and ventilation issues are very common in offices (and other workplaces) – it is either too hot or too cold; the temperature changes dramatically during the day; the draughts are awful; etc. It is not just the temperature that influences how people feel, but also the levels of humidity and the flow of air.
However, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2004, both the boss and the person who ‘manages or controls’ a workplace have an obligation of responsibility to have, as much as possible, a work atmosphere that is healthy and without health hazards – and can also do something about unsatisfactory air conditioning or heating. The boss still has the responsibility – which includes temperature – to control conditions at the workplace.
This is addressed in a little more depth by the Compliance Code for Workplace facilities and climate, but is also not very helpful, stating:
“Workplaces that are buildings need to be capable of maintaining a temperature range that is comfortable and suitable to the work. Workplace temperatures that are too high or too low can contribute to fatigue, heat illness and cold-related medical conditions.”
“Optimum comfort for sedentary work is between 20°C and 26°C, depending on the time of year and clothing worn.”Depending on the time of year and clothes worn, ideal comfort for sedentary work is between 20 ° C and 26 ° C.
In addition, ventilation, air quality and air conditioning guidance is given in the code (Sections 128 – 131). More data – Risks on the Heat page (or for full text: Compliance Code for Workplace amenities and work environment).
So, are there guidance available?
The temperature in the workplaces can usually vary according to the temperature outside, which should be changed month by month. It should mostly be around 21 or 22 degrees, and this will be a decent place to start, it is suggested. From that point, modifications can then be made to verify that the air conditioning covers all locations in the office and that windows receiving large amounts of sunshine do not create complications.
However, recent experiments in the Netherlands (on construction efficiency) have shown that women are usually more relaxed when the temperature is closer to 25 degrees C – around 3 degrees colder than men. This should be taken into consideration, too.
The Australian Standard AS1668.2 contains more information: The use of ventilation and air conditioning in buildings – Construction of ventilation for the prevention of indoor air pollutants. Australian Standards can be bought online via the website of the Standards Association store. Also on the website are other contact information. Libraries of local or academic institutions can have copies of Australian Standards, so review these.
The issue is also that the air conditioning systems require repairs, or that the air flow rate and direction are unsatisfactory. The Officewise guide booklet is now used by all jurisdictions and is (free) available from WorkSafe (03 9641 1555). It is also available for free on the WorkSafe website.
To boost thermal ease, Officewise recommends the following:
Regulate the air conditioning for humidity and temperature;
Stop placing workstations immediately in front of air conditioning outlets or below them;
To steer airflow away from individuals, add deflectors on air vents. Such interventions would keep workers from being irritated by draughts;
Monitor direct sunshine with blinds, louvres and the like (radiant heat);
Minimize the draughts and thermal differences (thermal gradients) between the head and feet;
Ensure proper air ventilation. When air flow is low, feelings of stuffiness can result and draughts happen when air flow is high. It is optimal to have an air flow rate of 0.1 to 0.2 metres per second.
With regards to humidity, this can cause irritation if it is too high (excessive transpiration, exacerbation of high temperature symptoms, feelings of ‘closeness’, etc.) and if it is too low, it will cause breathing difficulties. Optimum humidity values are between 40 and 60 percent, but they should be maintained between 30 and 70 percent in any situation. For workers with conditions such as sinusitis, humidity levels below 40 percent can start to cause complications. (Advice: from the CSA Standard CAN/CSA Z412-00 (R2005) – “Office Ergonomics” offering appropriate temperature and relative humidity levels for Canadian workplaces. These values are the same as prescribed by Norm 55 – 2010 “Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy” of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). )
Comfort Temperature/Humidity Ranges
Conditions Relative humidity Acceptable Operational conditions Operating conditions
Summer (Lightweight clothing) If 30%, then 30%
If 60%, so 24.5 – 28 ° C
23 – 25.5°C Celsius
Winter (Warm clothes) If it’s 30 percent, then
If 60%, so 20.5 – 25.5 ° C
20 – 24 ° Celsius
Source: Workplace Health and Safety Canadian Centre – Adapted from ASHRAE 55-2010.
Advice for reps from OHS
If individuals in the workplace are dissatisfied, so management can contact the health and safety official to recommend that the following points be checked:
If the machine is running correctly or requires maintenance, adaptation, etc.
The temperature in different positions inside the building (this will vary depending on a variety of factors, including radiant heat, where the thermostats are placed, etc.);
Rush of air;
Dampness; and so forth.
This is a responsibility under Section 21(4)(d) of the OHS Act: “monitor the conditions at any workplace under the control and management of the employer” If required, the employer should bring in someone with an acceptable degree of experience – Section 21(4)(c): ‘Employing or engaging individuals who are sufficiently trained in the area of occupational health and safety are willing to provide the employer with guidance on the health and safety of employees.’
What if they knock down the air conditioning system?
The details (formerly) found in the Commonwealth Recommendations stated that air conditioning systems normally have more than enough fresh air for health than is required. The Guidance have indicated that the evacuation of affected areas of the building should the working environments get unacceptably high, cold or smelly is a common sense solution when air conditioning systems are ‘down.’
With regard to ambient temperature, when the dry bulb air temperature (that is, the inside thermometer) is inside the range of 18 to 30 degrees Celsius, there should be no harmful health consequences from operating in a quiet workplace setting (for usually healthy people). Outside this range, certain workers will be impacted and disciplinary measures must be taken if employees are to stay in the building for times other than brief periods of time.
Experience further reveals that people will feel uncomfortable outside the range of 20 to 26 degrees and productivity is likely to decrease.
Therefore, in a case where only part of the air conditioning is running, the indoor temperature should be controlled, and where the temperature reaches 26 degrees, as an interim measure, management should include free-standing cooling fans before the air conditioning is completely operational. In certain cases, there might be some other choices, such as operating from home as a short-term measure, but the focus should be on replacing the air conditioner as quickly as possible.
If the indoor temperature reaches 30 degrees Celsius and workers feel unwell, steps must be taken to cool them down and an event form should be completed to record the situation. In certain cases, workers may need to go home, depending on how they feel. In such a case, where management has not been able to take appropriate action to resolve the OHS problem, no wage penalty should be levied on the workers.
For details and advice in certain cases, contact your union.
You need to spend money on items that do not specifically produce sales or benefit while you operate a business. Most of these costs is air conditioning in the office. Because of this, you might worry whether or not your office’s air conditioning system is fine. Here are five reasons that explain why the office needs air conditioning.
1. No wasting of hours at work
Many recent findings have shown that productivity can be severely impaired by an overheated workplace. In most cases, workers waste at least one hour of their working time due to heat; this figure will go much higher in some situations. Employees often try to stop jobs while they are in their seat, and these variables impact the efficiency. The loss of time will be minimized by the air conditioning system in your office, and it is a huge reason to get it.
2. Good protection for the staff
Being a company owner, the number one concern should be the well-being of your team. They will not take leaves and medical costs will be fewer if your workers have decent health; thus, you will get more productivity from them. It will lower the temperature by adding air conditioning in the workplace, create an unhealthy environment for germs to flourish, make the workers feel healthier, and help them stay safe.
3. Your clients are feeling fine,
Not only can your workers feel good when you have AC in your office, but your customers will as well. Without any delay, you will make your clients or buyers come to your workplace. This increases the probability of your market success because clients tend to tour your office several times before making an order with you. You can make a better impression with a comfortable workplace, and also have better business growth.
4. Acting effectively with focus
In the workplace, air conditioning not only gives the workers stamina for hard work, but they still work smartly. It is an established fact that persons who work with adequate air conditioning in a supportive atmosphere make less mistakes. Often, the concentration of the staff will be improved by a pleasantly cool workplace. When you have an overheated workplace, obtaining these outcomes is next to difficult.
5. Money benefits for you
Due to higher energy usage, most new company owners stop installing air conditioning at the workplace. Indeed, relative to a standard fan, it absorbs more fuel, but the net savings are still greater with AC in the long run. To keep the position cold, you may need to run several fans in your office, but if you have AC, then you need just a couple of them. So, if you equate the cost with the above-mentioned advantages, then you will understand that the net savings are greater with AC relative to other cooling solutions.
In your workplace, the advantages of an air conditioning system are not limited to just these five points. Depending on your business, it will increase. But, if at your office you don’t have AC, then now is the time to have it built and enjoy the rewards.
For 50 years, the Standard 55 standards have been used to set up air conditioning in commercial buildings. But several offices are not staffed exclusively by 40-year-old men clad in 60s business suits, and as Dr Karl Kruszelnicki suggests, that’s left women out in the cold.
Sales of air conditioning systems worldwide are up by around 20 per cent each year.
But new air conditioning set-ups all have a fundamental fault, aside from the cost and resources involved in cooling our homes. They are sexist.
You know, men enjoy air conditioning, but women shiver often.
We will conserve energy and resources if we only set the thermostat at a slightly higher temperature.
The men are good in shirt-sleeves, but the ladies must wear cardigans and scarves. You know what I mean.
The weather was still okay in the good old days. But then the horrible event involving Adam, Eve, the apple and the talking snake happened. So God tipped the World off its vertical axis and, according to Milton’s Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve experienced ‘sweeping heat in summer’ for the first time… Pinching the winter chill ‘.
Through using the evaporation of water, the Ancient Egyptians cooled down when wind blew over moistened reeds hanging in windows.
Similar inventions were used by the Ancient Romans and Persians.
The Chinese had immense fans by the second century AD, three meters in diameter and human-powered, blowing air over water rising from fountains.
It was 1902 when Willis Carrier in New York invented the first modern electrical air conditioning.
And the air conditioning conditions in our buildings have adopted the popular and sexist Standard 55 over the last 50 years.
Norm 55 is a compilation of rules for how indoor temperature and humidity should be controlled.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers initiated it in 1966. They found environmental influences, such as temperature and humidity, the metabolic rate and clothes worn by office employees, and certain human factors.
And you guessed it, the person they wanted to base on was a 40-year-old man, weighing 70kg, dressed in a full business suit from the 1960s.
And to adopt this famous Standard 55, all new air conditioning systems are set up.
You can see a lot of concerns now that you know the context.
Second, based on height, weight, health, type of career, and, of course, gender, the metabolic rate varies immensely.
Women are generally both smaller in height and weight and have a higher proportion of body fat than males. Modern researchers currently claim that women send out about a third less heat than men do, so they don’t require too much ventilation.
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Women prefer to wear thinner garments and show more skin. The second issue is also apparent. You don’t always see a man’s bare knees in an office.
The third issue is a bit more complex as it is linked to the ‘glass ceiling’ that, because of their credentials, women are less likely to be promoted. Patriarchy Boo.
And then, with plenty of windows and fantastic views, the men get the more enticing corner rooms, while the women are grouped more in the middle of the building.
One aspect here now is that glass leaks heat like nuts, so the men in the corner offices want the aircon to run cooler in season.
Another aspect is that the vents are generally closest to the middle of the house. So the ladies in their lighter clothes are directly on their way to the colder corner offices in the blast of the cool air squirting out of the vents.
And this adds to the condition where, in the middle of summer, often women simply have to turn on heaters so that they are not continuously shivering.
Cardigan wars aside, there’s a greater concern with the cost of air conditioning. But the cost could help bring an end to the days of sexist aircraft.
We will conserve energy and resources if we only set the thermostat at a slightly higher temperature.
Just resetting the thermostat from 22 to 25 degrees Celsius, according to Richard de Dear, a professor of architecture and design science at the University of Sydney, could take a quarter off the cooling bill.
Suitless men will hang out at the lady-friendly temperature, and women won’t have to combat a cold front when struggling against the glass ceiling.
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