May 5, 2022

Thermal Comfort Conditions for the Workplace

What is Thermal Comfort?

Thermal comfort is a person’s perception, so how they feel is related to the temperature and air quality of a space. An example of this is feeling too hot or too cold.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) defines “Thermal comfort as that condition of mind which expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment. Because there are large variations, both physiologically and psychologically, from person to person, it is difficult to satisfy everyone in space. “

What are the factors and parameters which determine thermal comfort?

We need to consider SIX main factors, which are categorized into,

Personal factors – Clothing insulation, Metabolic heat

Environmental factors – Air temperature, Radiant temperature, Air velocity, Humidity

These SIX parameters interact together to determine whether a person will be experiencing thermal comfort or not.

Now, let us look at each of these parameters:

  • Clothing Insulation
  • Metabolic Heat
  • Air Temperature
  • Radiant Heat
  • Humidity
  • Air Velocity

Why is Thermal Comfort Important?

It is important to keep these factors in mind when designing, so you can improve the quality of people’s lives. The more comfortable we are in space, the more livable it is.

Good thermal comfort keeps our body healthy and even helps our productivity. People working in uncomfortably hot and cold environments are more likely to behave unsafely because their ability to make decisions and perform manual tasks deteriorates. For example, reduced ability to concentrate on tasks may cause an increase in errors; workers avoid using personal protective equipment in hot environments, increasing the risks. The Health and Safety Executive puts forth the following control measures to control thermal comfort in the workplace.

  • Control the environment by replacing hot air with cold air or vice versa as required
  • Separate the source of heat or cold from the employee by erecting barriers that shield or insulate the work area or restrict access
  • Reducing the time of exposure to extremes of temperatures and controlling the rate of work employees are expected to do
  • Rescheduling the work time by scheduling hot work during cooler times of the day
  • Appropriate clothing to enable employees to make reasonable adjustments to their clothing based on their individual needs
  • Provision of mechanical aids to reduce the force exerted for a physically demanding job in hot temperatures
  • Provide appropriate supervision and training
  • Where possible, remove all restrictions that may prevent employees from making minor adjustments to their clothing or work rate and allow employees to adjust thermostats or open windows as appropriate

As an employer, you should be aware of these risks and make sure the underlying reasons for these unsafe behaviors are understood and actively discouraged and prevented.

Article written by:

Mr. Dilip Madurai – MET, CSP, IDip NEBOSH ,HSE Lead Tutor, Green World Group – Dubai

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