We’ve all heard of ‘sick building syndrome’, whereby a series of minor architectural failings such as poor ventilation, the presence of fumes, bad lighting and materials can have an adverse effect on all who work there. Fortunately, such buildings are rare, and getting rarer, as consciousness is raised and employers and employees alike become more aware of the need for a comfortable and healthy working environment. However, there are still too many workers who spend their days either sweltering or shivering – in the office, shops, factories or warehouses.
The health risks of cold offices
Nevertheless, the Health and Safety executive guidelines for a workplace state that temperatures should be no less than 16°C, or 13°C if lots of physical work is taking place. Any colder than this, and not only are staff cold and miserable, thus lowering both morale and productivity, but they are also more prone to illness such as colds and the flu and generally debilitated. It is therefore important that a workplace avoids such potential health issues by having the right heating system for the job.
Flexible answers to the heating question
Most offices require a standard central heating system, and of course most of the newer environments have this fitted as standard. Temporary or older workspaces, however, are not always blessed with this sort of infrastructure, or the heating system is inefficient or prohibitively expensive to run. For workplaces such as these, heating hire can be an answer, especially when it is warm for much of the year. Hired heating units only have to be in use when temperatures require it, thus keeping energy costs down, and only have to heat whatever areas are in use, but the difference a cozy environment makes to the staff is phenomenal.
The hot and stuffy office
The other side of the problem is of course workplaces that are too hot. These also tend to be older buildings, where an inflexible centralized heating system is on all year round, in every room. The suffocating feeling of working in a boiling room on a balmy day is debilitating enough, but overheated stuffy workplaces are also a breeding ground for viruses, respiratory ailments and sore throats. A dehumidifier can mitigate the worst effects, but only a sensible heating regime can really make a difference. Again, if renovation is expensive or impractical, then hired units can be one way around the problem.
The mixed blessings of aircon
Air conditioning is also useful in working environments with a lot of fumes or areas with consistently hot weather. They carry their own problems, however. To maintain a healthy atmosphere with aircon, rooms need to retain a certain level of humidity to prevent coughs and sore throats – and the aircon temperature must not be set too low. Too many people still have to take cardigans into work in the summer to cope with the sudden Arctic atmosphere!
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