Edition #4: 3 cost-effective ways to keep your workplace warm in a New Zealand winter
According to WorkSafe New Zealand, thermal comfort describes whether a person feels too hot, too cold, or just right. It’s often a challenge to keep large areas like factories, warehouses or distribution centres ‘just right’.
Acceptable winter workplace temperatures
Worksafe NZ suggests a winter temperature of 18 – 22° for sedentary work, and, 16 – 19° for physical work.
Of course, workers are expected to wear reasonably warm clothes for the season.
Why it’s important
A chilly environment does not encourage productivity.
We often experience a drop in concentration and performance when we’re cold. That’s because our bodies are using up energy just trying to keep us warm.
- Colder temperatures can negatively influence mood.
- Some workers get tired quickly when they’re cold.
- There’s a greater risk of mistakes being made that could be harmful.
- Cold stresses the immune system as it puts a burden on the cardiovascular system. (Philippa Howden-Chapman, professor of public health, University of Otago.)
So how do I warm this cavernous building?
Portable heaters: Great chill chasers! Move them around to where you need them. Job sites, warehouses, factories or distribution centres can all benefit from them.
They’re capable of pumping out up to 220,000 BTU to warm 511 square metres.
Relative humidity (RH) is the gremlin that makes heat unbearable in summer and the cold clammier in winter – sometimes even to the point of causing condensation.
Heating, whether radiant or forced air, will help you to handle this issue because as air temperature increases, its capacity to hold moisture increases. In other words, if its moisture content remains the same the RH decreases and you feel more comfortable.
Address any sources of humidity such as water seepage, plumbing problems or leaks in the building.
Simply opening doors or windows and creating a through draft can lower indoor moisture levels, but a portable blow drum fan can move large volumes of air quickly.
Strong air movement can further chill people when in cold temperatures, so check that you’re not making too much of a breeze for any of your workers.
We addressed this subject in our Summer Edition in the context of warehouse cooling.
Air in a building can form layers or ‘strata’ which can produce big differences in temperature from floor to ceiling.
Bringing the warm ceiling air down to floor level by using fans can make for a more comfortable work area while saving heating costs.
Although New Zealand isn’t a cold country by many standards, temperature is one of the main causes of complaint in workplaces.
When people are exposed to cold temperatures, strong or cold wind, dampness or cold water, skin temperature drops and the body has to work harder to maintain its internal core temperature.
We’ve come this far in our fight against COVID-19.
Let’s continue to keep our employees warm, dry and healthy.
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