Defining thermal comfort at work

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) specifically describes thermal comfort as:

‘That condition of mind which expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment.’

Essentially, this means that thermal comfort is a term used to describe the psychological state of an individual, and is referred to in terms of them feeling too hot or too cold.

In relation to accidents at work, stress-related illnesses and the many other facets that make up the working environment, this means that employers need to keep their staff happy and contented at work.

Of course, while 100 per cent workforce satisfaction is the aim, it’s often an unrealistic target. However, the HSE does suggest that at least 80% of the occupants in the office should be thermally comfortable in their surroundings.

Thermal comfort is complicated in terms of defining it because, when doing so, you need to consider the range of personal, and other factors, that can have an impact on someone’s comfort.

Thermal comfort is not something that can be measured by temperature, but rather by the number of staff members who complain of thermal discomfort.

How does thermal comfort effect the likelihood of accidents at work?

Thermal comfort can effect the workplace in a number of ways. Whilst you might not think being too hot can directly cause a workplace accident, temperatures and comfort can have a detrimental effect on an employee’s ability to perform tasks safely. For example:

–  Sufficient personal protective equipment might not be worn in environments that are too hot, creating obvious safety risks and chances of an accident at work.

–  Staff may take unsafe short cuts on a task to enable them to get out of a cold environment.

–  Concentration levels may also be adversely affected, which can obviously lead to errors and injuries at work.

What can I do to adapt to the thermal environment?

Fortunately, there are numerous strategies you can employ to cope with, and adapt to, the thermal environment, some of which are done on a subconscious level. As an employee, you can:

–  Increase or decrease your level of clothing accordingly

–  Automatically alter your posture

–  Change locations within the office to somewhere cooler

If you are involved in an accident which causes industrial injuries, or suffer from illnesses at work, then call Accident Advice Helpline.

Their team of professional lawyers can take your work injury claim on a no win, no fee* basis, and usually settle out of court. To discuss your claim with a member of our expert team dial 0800 689 0500 now.

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