One of the research queries we received was in regards to acceptable temperatures within an office environment.
The old Australian Standard AS 1837 – 1976 Code of Practice for Application of Ergonomics to Factory and Office Work recommended a temperature range of 21 – 24 degrees Celsius.
Consider, though that even though the ‘whole’ temperature of the office or factory is sitting within the specified range, some areas may be above or below the recommended temperature. For example, if someone sits directly under an air conditioning vent, then they may be in a draught and therefore much cooler than need be.
I remember visiting a large ‘open floor’ office that consisted of keyboard operators. The majority were working in short and long-sleeve shirts (enjoying a consistent temperature), but one worker (two desks from the back of the room) consistently wore a jumper in the office. She was the unfortunate one who was positioned right below the air conditioning vent. Needing to wear a jumper annoyed her and my guess is, she was perhaps not as ‘easy’ to work with, as she could have been. Simply moving her desk two metres back and beside another workmate solved the problem. She was a much happier individual, and not experiencing such extreme termperature fluctuations every time she moved from her desk for a tea-break.
It’s important to remember that even small things like a few degrees difference in temperature can have an adverse affect on people’s comfort and therefore relationship with others as well as work performance.
At the other end of the scale, a work station positioned in direct sunlight will be much warmer than the surrounding environment. True, it might be a delightful place to work during the winter months, but even the most warmth-loving individual can begin to suffer. (Also consider ‘glare’ issues).
Be aware that equipment can produce heat, raising the temperature in a particular area. Even a small room with a number of workers in it will contribute to a rise in temperature.
When reading temperatures, be sure to position the gauge (or thermometer) in a place that will not be affected by the cooling mechanism, eg. don’t have the air conditioning vent blowing directly onto the gauge as this will produce false readings.
Be sure to have appropriate ventilation; fresh air is vital to combatting fatigue and headaches.
Ventilation is measured by the movement of air and the rate of fresh air coming in. Air movement of less than 0.1 metres per second can cause “stuffy” workplaces.
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