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Ventilation in the Workplace

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 28 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Ventilation In Workplace Workplace

Ventilation in the workplace is covered under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 which states that workplaces need to be adequately ventilated in the proper manner by which clean air is drawn from an external source outside of the workplace and circulated throughout the building. Whether by natural or mechanical means, it should dilute and remove humid air and provide sufficient air movement to give a feeling of freshness without causing a draught.

What Else Do the Regulations Cover?

As well as providing sufficient fresh air to breathe, the regulations also require that a workplace can successfully remove excess heat or, in some cases where it’s air conditioned, provide heat if necessary. A company must also ensure that any odours from food or any excess contaminants such as dust and fumes are properly removed. In some cases like a small office, for example, doors and windows may well be sufficient to comply with the regulations but in larger premises such as an industrial factory, mechanical ventilation will usually be required.

Providing the Correct Temperature

In addition to proper ventilation, companies also need to ensure that their workplaces are maintained at an appropriate temperature. Of course, when it comes to temperature, it can provoke a very mixed reaction from staff as some will feel hotter or colder than others when working in exactly the same building but the general guidelines are that workplaces should be kept at a temperature of at least 16C (61F) where most of the work is sedentary and at least 13C (55F), where the work involves more of a physical exertion. There are, however, exceptions to this.

Working in Hot or Cold Environments

There are many jobs in which you’ll be required to work in temperatures either above or below those recommended above. To comply with health and safety regulations however, a company must carry out a full risk assessment taking both personal and environmental factors into account.

Personal factors might include the physical extent of the job, the type of clothing worn and the length of continuous exposure to a given environment. Environmental factors could include the ambient temperature, radiant heat and, if the work is performed outdoors, things like direct sunlight, wind and possibly rain and snow will also need to be considered and appropriate provisions put in place.

Situations where these kinds of factors will need to be considered can include working in cold storage centres, food preparation e.g. kitchens, bakeries, foundries, launderettes etc. and adequate provisions will need to be put in place to eliminate or minimise the effects of working in extreme cold or heat.

This might include installing cooling systems, fans, heaters in fork lift trucks in cold stores, for example, and even an employee will be entitled to an adequate number of rest breaks and/or time away from working directly in the exposed environment. Suitable clothing and changing of clothing provisions will need to be in place and employees should also receive training, acclimatisation and medical checks to ensure they are fit enough to work in such extreme conditions and to be able to benefit from ongoing medical screenings.

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[Add a Comment]
Sinbad - Your Question:
I work in a small office in a large warehouse,we a ceiling mounted aircon unit.its covered in dust constantly and hasnt been maintained in 5 years.up to 5 people are in there 24 7.does my employer have any duty to clean and service this.we suffer eye infections and irritations regularly. Thanks.

Our Response:
Yes, you should ask your employer directly to sort this matter out. If your employer continues to ignore your request, you can put a grievance in writing, please see link here .
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 29-Aug-17 @ 2:46 PM
I work in a small office in a large warehouse,we a ceiling mounted aircon unit.its covered in dust constantly and hasnt been maintained in 5 years.up to 5 people are in there 24 7 .does my employer have any duty to clean and service this.we suffer eye infections and irritations regularly. Thanks..
Sinbad - 28-Aug-17 @ 3:02 PM
I work in a bakery with no ventilation except fire door which has to be kept closed. No windows just walls . Any advice please as I have requested help a number of times from manager
Julrd - 26-May-17 @ 8:44 AM
Jappers - Your Question:
I work in a care home. Recently had to down size and move office. Our working office is an old ironing room with no acess to day light, or a window. Size approx, 12'x 6'. Add a pc and a small medical fridge under stairs that are over the new office space. When told about the move which is in an accommodation block, with residents and wc in passage I advised that I need to have access to fresh air or forced ventilation. One can smell the wc at times and the heat and stuffiness is gross. Now the move is up and running. My colleague complained about the heat. The management added a fan. The new managers office and admin office on a separate block have had no expense spared on the ( refurb), but we have to put up with working in a hot smelly cupboard. What do you advice as management have not listened and failed to listen to advice given months ago.

Our Response:
If you’re a worker and you’ve tried solving a problem or concern informally by talking to your manager but you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing, please see gov.uk link here.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 28-Apr-17 @ 10:08 AM
I work in a care home. Recently had to down size and move office. Our working office is an old ironing room with no acess to day light, or a window. Size approx, 12'x 6'. Add a pc and a small medical fridge under stairs that are over the new office space. When told about the move which is in an accommodation block, with residents and wc in passage I advised that I need to have access to fresh air or forced ventilation. One can smell the wc at times and the heat and stuffiness is gross. Now the move is up and running. My colleague complained about the heat. The management added a fan. The new managers office and admin office on a separate block have had no expense spared on the ( refurb), but we have to put up with working in a hot smelly cupboard. What do you advice as management have not listened and failed to listen to advice given months ago.
Jappers - 27-Apr-17 @ 8:25 AM
does outside air supplied after being heated through the heating system qualify as ventilation
maclam - 23-Dec-16 @ 9:53 AM
having visited my local asda store over the last few months I found that the only ventilation provided is through the heating system , with fresh air being heated before being distributed to the interior of the building. there appears to be no movement of air within the building only warm air being provided.
maclam - 23-Dec-16 @ 9:50 AM
hello, I have a serious problem at work.more than a year and will route the hood for ventilation.there a door opener if you are a little better, but my menager wants it closed at all costs.when the door closed I feel bad, I can hardly breathe,I feel the hot face, headaches,and I feel sick.Today I told them that if you close the door I go home, he told me that if I go I must not cam back to work more.what to do? Help me please
Mimi - 27-Sep-16 @ 12:21 PM
Retail backrooms and warehouses highly overlooked than? we had so much dust apparently, that I was getting abnormal amounts and even odd colors of phlegm coming up my throat after 3 years. It really was disgusting too in some areas, just really gross amounts of dust piling up. I decided one day on big cleaning duty day before a corp visit to wear a face mask for goodness sake, and I ALWAYS had to wear gloves or my hands would dry so bad they cracked and bled. Than again I have sensitive thin skin so that doesn't do any wonders. Sadly it is the only job I got much experience in and it also ensures I get my social space compared to other jobs I've had, so I feel sort of doomed to dusty environments.
Dust Bunny - 3-Aug-16 @ 6:31 PM
What, if any, are the requirements for supply & extract air movement to wc's in commercial offices
keith - 2-Aug-16 @ 11:16 AM
Steve - Your Question:
My kitchen at work has had no ventilation fot nearly 2 weeks due to system failure. Repair is not happening and I am working in temps exceeding 50oc. Is this illegal. What can I do.

Our Response:
You would need to speak to your employer directly. You can see more via the HSE link here and if your employer ignores your request, you can contact the HSE or ACAS directly for more advice regarding your rights under such circumstances.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 18-May-16 @ 12:38 PM
My kitchen at work has had no ventilation fot nearly 2 weeks due to system failure. Repair is not happening and i am working in temps exceeding 50oc. Is this illegal.What can i do.
Steve - 17-May-16 @ 7:42 PM
@nic - you might want to contact the HSE via its online advice form via the link here.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 23-Jun-15 @ 2:50 PM
My company have said that as the manager of a small frozen food store as the Manager I have to clean the air con, what are the dangers? can anyone tell me please and do I have to do it.
nic - 21-Jun-15 @ 9:23 AM
@Lorain - The HSE has more in depth information on the subject of ventilation in the workplace link here .
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 17-Nov-14 @ 10:03 AM
Need notes on the following topics, ventilation, toxicology. Thanks in advance
Lorain - 14-Nov-14 @ 3:38 PM
I work in a school and the classroom i teach in has no windows. The only ventilation is a door which is a fire door which has a self closing mechanism.This is also the only fire escape. Is this legal?
edgey - 6-Oct-14 @ 8:06 PM
I AM A STUDENT I NEED NOTES ON THE FOLLOWING TOPICS PLEASE SEND VIA EMAIL IF POSSIBLE 1. PROVISION OF FRESH AIR SUPPLY NOTESi.e fresh supply for general work activities in air conditioned workplaces..types of work activity...minimum fresh air supply rate.......type of work activity minimum fresh airsupply rate 2. MAINTENANCE 3. MONITORING OF THE VENTILATION SYSTEM TH - 26-Jul-14 @ 11:15 PMS ON THE FOLLOWING TOPICS PLEASE
TH - 26-Jul-14 @ 11:18 PM
1. PROVISION OF FRESH AIR SUPPLY NOTESi.e fresh supply for general work activities in air conditioned workplaces..types of work activity...minimum fresh air supply rate.......type of work activity minimum fresh airsupply rate 2. MAINTENANCE 3. MONITORING OF THE VENTILATION SYSTEM
TH - 26-Jul-14 @ 11:15 PM
I work in a blowmoulding factory on Thursday they started a cloused door policy late that day started getting breathing problems when I compleat to management it fell on deaf ears wee don't have any ventalation the factory breathing problems and sore heads what can I do
Billy - 11-Nov-13 @ 3:23 PM
My son works in the packing area of a free range chicken farm.The employer is going to close the shed down and is not cleaning the chicken shed as thoroughly as before.The staff have been told they have to keep all doors to the packing area closed resulting in insuffient ventilation and the smell of the waste from the chickens is overpowering.My sons and his co-workers are subjected to this overpowering smell and are inhaling these fumes all day.Is this legal?
JET - 21-Apr-13 @ 11:48 AM
I work for a fabrications company and there's a lot of welding going on, but we don't have a ventilation system, the only thing we can do is open the shutter door to replace the air but that let's the cold in so most people don't like it, when people have been welding the weld vapour hangs in the air, you can see that it's not being removed. So is this something that the regulations cover and if so what can I do about it ?
Dave - 31-Jan-13 @ 9:40 PM
Are there any regulations covering the provision of a supply of fresh air in work premises? I work in an office with 'air conditioning' and no openable windows. The air conditioning keeps breaking down and people are feeling ill because there is no fresh air. I know there are no regulations governing the maximum working temperature, but surely there is a requirement to provide some exchange of air, because we are using up all the oxygen in the room. We are on the third floor so we have no access whatsoever to air from outside when the air conditioning is not working, and sometimes it can be off for several days in succession. The company I work for rents the office space so has no authority to get the repairs done and the building owners are only concerned with keeping their costs as low as possible. My employer is not prepared to send people home or make alternative provision because they don't want to lose money either, but this is affecting employees' health. Can I make a formal complaint to the local council under H&S regulations?
Omega - 20-Oct-11 @ 9:18 AM
I work in a care home the corridor we have to sit in is surrounded by rooms. There is no natural ventilation all doors need to be shut 4 fire reasons is this legal?
Rave - 16-Jun-11 @ 5:05 AM
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