Thermal Stress & Comfort
Full assessment of hot and cold workplaces to evaluate possible heat stress,
risk from cold or poor comfort levels.
Heat and cold stress can have very severe effects on the body causing ill health and even death. By definition it affects the normal functioning of the body. It is therefore vitally important that when working in environments with elevated or very low temperatures the risks are fully assessed and remedial actions taken so that workers can be placed out of harm’s way. As with all Health and Safety Legislation, it is the duty of the employer to fully assess the environment where a physical or chemical hazard has been identified.
The thermal environment is regarded as a combination of thermal parameter and not air temperature alone. It can include, physical parameters such as radiant heat, humidity, air movement and administrative factors such as ventilation, spatial arrangements, building design and the occupying personnel.
By contrast thermal discomfort is generally less severe as there are no debilitating physiological effects, nor is it life-threatening. It affects individuals in different ways depending on physiology and psychological factors. It can nevertheless affect general wellbeing in the workplace. Poor thermal comfort often goes hand in hand with low levels of work rate and poor work quality.
“There’s no air in here.”
“It’s always too hot or too cold.”
“My eyes are itchy and my throat’s dry.”
These are typical complaints in many offices and don’t always identify the true cause of the problem.
The thermal environment in offices and other enclosed spaces has been found to be one of the major factors in the condition known as ‘Sick Building Syndrome’ (SBS).
If there is a likelihood of the working environment not being ‘reasonable’ with respect to ventilation and temperature an employer has a responsibility to assess and remedy any shortfalls. This is not always a simple matter as there a large number of interacting parameters to consider therefore interpretation can be complex. A dissatisfied or uncomfortable workforce will not reach their full working potential.
A good assessment should identify the causes of the discomfort or stress, evaluate the problem and provide solutions in the form of remedial actions which address the underlying problems.
A good assessment should identify the causes of the discomfort or stress, evaluate the problem and provide solutions in the form of remedial actions.