As we all know, it’s crucial to make sure that appropriate levels of ventilation, filtration and comfortable ambient temperatures are maintained at all times in any workplace.
If you’re initially looking to put together a more generic list of workplace temperature, ventilation and filtration issues to keep a close eye on, here are five key basic checks for each area that it’s always wise to include on your rounds.
1. Is the general ambient temperature in the workplace comfortable, including exposure for extended periods of time and when combined with typical workplace activity?
2. Are there any particularly hot or cold areas of the workplace, relative to the overall or average temperature?
3. Have there been any particular complaints logged or issues raised about temperatures in specific areas?
4. Are appropriate breaks provided for any workers required to spend extended periods in areas of generally lower or higher temperature?
5. Are suitable items of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied to workers in these areas as appropriate?
1. Is there a good level of natural ventilation (i.e. via doors, windows and air bricks) passing through all areas of the environment?
2. Are any areas particularly vulnerable to stagnation or excessive draughtiness as a result of natural ventilation? (Pay particular attention to areas close to, or especially remote from, external doors and windows.)
3. Where good natural ventilation is available, is the workplace environment correctly set up to allow it to function properly (i.e. no excessive blocking of doors, windows and air vents)?
4. Are fans for healthy movement of air provided where natural ventilation is lacking, and are they moving clean air if so?
5. Are your HVAC – heating, ventilation and air conditioning – systems working properly in combination to create a comfortable working environment across all areas of the workplace?
1. Are existing fans or HVAC systems drawing clean air, or are they at risk of moving any fumes, dust etc around the workplace?
2. If any areas of the workplace are prone to fumes, dust etc, are functioning ventilation or particle extraction systems in place?
3. Do existing exhaust systems direct extracted air safely away from the workplace, including away from inlets for natural ventilation (windows, doors, air bricks etc)?
4. Are any filters attached to existing extraction systems functioning properly, and regularly checked/cleaned where appropriate?
5. Have you conducted a suitably recent check on proper functioning of airflow through any installed filtration and extraction systems, for example using a smoke test or similar?
Industry-specific standards and regulations will of course vary wildly depending on both the type of industry and the nature/location of the workplace in question. It’s therefore always important to be aware of the specific requirements for your particular working environment when devising any comprehensive list of equipment, maintenance and safety checks.
It’s also very important to make sure that any measures you bring in to help control and monitor ambient environmental temperatures, air ventilation and filtration systems also comply with regulations in other related areas of workplace safety – always be aware of specific industry requirements with regards to issues such as employee posting, record keeping, medical and first aid service provision, fire protection, machine guarding and PPE/clothing.