What is the Optimum Temperature in Your Building?
March 1st, 2021
Last updated: September 1st, 2022
Designing a workplace to create an optimum temperature needs to take into account warm weather as well as cold. HVAC systems are designed to create ideal temperatures for different buildings, and both air conditioning systems and heating systems such as boilers are getting more efficient as well as “smarter”.
However, to work out the ideal temperature they need to take into account many different factors:
- The type of building (ie. office, warehouse, laboratory, food preparation etc)
- The age of the building (ie, how well the fabric of the building holds heat in)
- Activities within the building
- The ambient external temperature
In the UK we may feel that we experience bad weather for most of the year, but our temperatures are actually quite stable and moderate compared to the extremes seen in other parts of the world.
This provides a decent basis upon which an employer can fulfil their duty to provide a safe and comfortable work environment, and so that an HVAC system can be designed to provide an optimum temperature. In some parts of the world where it is either hot all year around or cold all year around, the HVAC systems could be working much harder.
Why is Providing an Optimum Workplace Temperature Important?
Creating an optimum workplace temperature is a basic health and safety duty for the employer, but also it aids productivity and maintains the health and morale of the workforce. Hot or humid temperatures can cause dizziness, tension and fatigue, which affects concentration.
It is about doing what is right by employees, but it is also crucial to understand that an extreme temperature can lead to a loss of productivity, errors and most importantly safety issues. We all know how it feels to be in a workplace where it is super cold, or extremely warm. It affects our body and our brain. The optimum room temperature should always be the goal.
How Do You Decide on an Optimum Temperature?
Deciding on an optimum temperature is mainly influenced by the type of building.
For instance, an open warehouse with lots of height and space will be very hard to keep warm, particularly as external doors are frequently opened to facilitate the movement of goods. A
n office, a retail unit or a healthcare facility will be easier to keep warm, whilst other indoor workplaces may be easy to maintain temperature-wise, but if laborious physical work takes place then good ventilation and temperature control will be required.
Similarly, some laboratories, food preparation areas and specialist warehousing may need to be temperature-controlled, so special design parameters may be required in these workplaces. Think about whether food is being handled, and the temperature guidelines that need to be abided by if this is the case. It could be that a HVAC chiller is needed in these environments.
If it is just down to comfort when choosing the optimum boiler temperature or air conditioning temperature, this comes down somewhat to personal preference, but there are guidelines to help you…
What is the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Guidance on Optimum Temperatures?
HSE guidance on workplace temperatures states that areas should be at least 16°C or 13°C where laborious work takes place.
Office environments however, should be more stable and comfortable, generally ranging between 21°C and 23°C. There are no strict minimum or maximum limits for workplace temperatures, but deciding on the optimum temperature needs to consider the radiant temperature, humidity and air velocity. Sounds complex, right?
These factors will be taken into account when designing a suitable HVAC system, and where workplaces create more humidity, such as factories or food preparation areas with ovens, for example, this will be factored into the design.
The general rule is that an employer must maintain a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace. So this is dictated by the four factors listed at the beginning of this article.
Because this is a subjective decision on the part of the employer, a ‘reasonable’ judgement needs to demonstrate that certain elements have been analysed, so an employer must take into account individual circumstances and carry out risk assessments to cover different activities, the time of year and health issues faced by the employees. It is a myth that there is some sort of magic temperature where employees can refuse to work, but it is the responsibility of employers to keep their staff safe.
The temperature also needs to allow for any personal protective equipment that is required to safely carry out a job. If your staff have to wear coveralls and a helmet then hot temperatures can get even more uncomfortable, meaning there is a need to lower the temperature using an air conditioning unit.
HVAC Systems Maintained by Experts
HVAC systems are designed to deal with indoor requirements relative to external ambient temperatures, so a system should be designed to react differently at different times of year, regardless of whether the workplace is an office, warehouse, factory or hospital.
Robinsons Facilities Services have industry expertise in servicing and maintaining HVAC systems for many different sectors, and this involves assessing workplaces and operations and agreeing on the optimum temperature range required to be maintained. A maintenance system can then be designed around achieving those temperatures consistently.
Call our Yorkshire HVAC team today and we can talk to you about optimum workplace temperatures and how we can help you achieve them, whether you’re looking for advice on a boiler for the winter or an air conditioning system for the summer.
Working across Yorkshire, we cover North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and South Yorkshire and offer a fast, efficient response time to all breakdowns and repairs. Contact us today for all planned, reactive maintenance or emergency call out.