Secrets of Correct Workplace Temperature

Air temperature is the most important thermal comfort factor and it is the air-conditioning system that usually determines the temperature of the workplace.

The correct temperature for workers is the temperature that most people find comfortable, without particularly discomforting the few people who have unusual temperature preferences. There is no scientically proven correct temperature for workers other than the extremes at which humans cannot operate.


Instead it depends on personal preference, clothing, the type of work they are doing and environmental factors such as humidity.

In common office environments people will be comfortable when the temperature is in the vicinity of 23°C and it is common for air-conditioning systems to be arranged to maintain temperatures in the range 20°C to 26°C.

For general office work, people often find 20° to 24°C to be a comfortable temperature in winter when they are wearing winter clothes, and they usually find 23° to 26°C to be a generally comfortable temperature in summer when they are wearing summer clothes.

Extremes of air temperature may have an adverse influence on health in air-conditioned spaces however this would only happen in the event of an air-conditioning system failure.

What is referred to as radiant temperature is measured on the surfaces of the windows, curtains, ceilings, walls, floors etc. that surround a person. Sunlight coming from outside the building contributes to the mean radiant temperature in a workplace.he mean radiant temperature of a space is largely determined by the architecture, construction and orientation of the building, and the type of window treatments (curtains, blinds etc.) that are fitted. In general the mean radiant temperature will be predictable. On the other hand the areas near windows usually have varying radiant temperature conditions and their influence on comfort will be more significant.

The mean radiant temperature of a space may often be improved by simple measures such as the fitting of curtains or blinds to windows.

The speed of air or the movement of the air that surrounds us affects our comfort. A “still air” environment is often acceptable  on a nice calm day. High air speed is generally uncomfortable but will create a cooling effect as it passes over and around bodies. Temperature comfort is usually a trade off between air speed and temperature. In an air-conditioned office the temperature may be slightly higher than normal if the air speed is similarly high. If the air temperature is too high it cannot be compensated for by adjustment of air speed (or vice versa).

While there is no particular air speed for satisfactory thermal comfort it is necessary for the air speed to suit the temperature. It is also necessary for the conditions not to be draughty and for there to be sufficient air movement to prevent the formation of local “hot spots” or localised areas of increased odour level.

Usually, air-conditioning systems are designed to produce maximum air speeds of 0.25 metres per second, in occupied areas. Air speed is usually determined by the need to ensure that there is a sufficient interchange of air in the building, to remove odours, control temperature and otherwise provide a pleasant working environment.

Many people know that humidity is important to comfort in their daily private lives but they may not appreciate that the situation is different in an air-conditioned space where the temperature is controlled.

People are quite insensitive to humidity levels over a wide humidity range – at the temperatures which are normally found in air-conditioned places. Also, the effect on comfort of a shift in humidity may be compensated for by a small adjustment of air temperature.

Higher humidity, for example, makes a person feel warmer thus a slight lowering of temperature will compensate for the comfort effect of this higher humidity.

The situation is different when the air temperature is high (approaching 30 Degrees. C.) or physical activity is great; or just after a person has experienced these conditions – such as when they walk into an air-conditioned building in Darwin, in summer, after being outside for an hour or so.

On these occasions the influence of humidity is much more important to comfort.

Part of an employer’s responsibility is to provide and maintain a safe work place, and often heat and cold can be overlooked unless perhaps you work in cold storage or a foundry.

The extremes of these two environments can have serious effects on employees, as hypothermia and heat fatigue or exhaustion can impact a person body and additionally impact work performance as concentration can be impaired. If they are dealing with machinery or other controls it can have serious negative outcomes.

How do I keep extreme heat and cold controlled at my workplace?

The first question to be asked is whether the temperature needs to be that extreme. If your industry calls for extreme temperatures, some controls measures might be the introduction of protective clothing, erection of shelters, providing breaks at closer intervals, use of air conditioners, access to cool water. When carrying out work in hot or cold temperatures monitoring employees’ health is also important, as each employee will handle temperature differently.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.