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Ventilation in the Workplace

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 3 Oct 2019 | 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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I work in a aluminium,zink and lead foundry we have no extraction fans and temperatures range from 32 -52 degrees inside . I complained so the boss bought some house fans lol s this legal
Kev - 3-Oct-19 @ 4:36 AM
Been working in an open office which used to be a dairy years ago. Some morning you walk in and the smell is so over powering it makes you heave. I have had to go to the toilets to vomit the smell turns your stomach. Is this safe working conditions to your health? The smell goes after about 1 to 2 hours but worried what we are breathing in in those hours until the air con kicks in.
Lizzie - 19-Sep-19 @ 9:45 PM
I rent a shop in a shopping centre and in the summer you cant breath of the heat in the store.Their is no windows in the shop I lose a lot of buseniss in the summer.I ask the owner if he could put roof fans in and I got a reply I must install them at my own cost.Is it legal to work in a shop with no windowns? Because now I have ask the owner to install windows I am waiting for a reply now.Just want to know my rights
Wilma - 15-Aug-19 @ 5:36 PM
I stock overnight at a Walmart, and am often made to work in Pets (every day for the last 3 or 4 years). The air conditioning in that corner of the building is incredibly poor, which makes it the hottest corner of the building, and becomes even worse on hot days. I get heat stroke very easily, and any time I report on it or ask to be removed from stocking Pets due to the conditions, I'm told I'm "making up excuses" and promptly ignored. Many others complain about how warm it is over there as well as the poor air conditioning system.
Val - 25-Jul-19 @ 12:36 PM
I was a chef at a hotel, where the extractor fan broke down, bear in mind all my equipment cooker, fryer, and grill are gas, we got made to work In a busy small kitchen like this for 2weeks, and got told we had to work, after that was fixed it happend again and same situation, when I mentioned this to the owner, he said we are not shutting the kitchen because the gas still works, ungreatfull in my eyes that an employer can do that
Chris - 23-Jun-19 @ 1:40 AM
Hello I work in a box factory. And I work on flyer machines. Witch they have to heat the glue. Witch raises the temperature. And it is manual labor. Packing and stacking heavy boxes. That also raises the temperature. There is cardboard dust everywhere. But there is no windows open. And the last 3 weeks they have been shutting off the air conditioning. Its to hot to do that. I feel like I'm drowning in sweat now. Everyone is miserable. And all they can say is. We shut it off to cut costs in company. I almost had an arms attack tonight. What is the legal policy for this. Please help. Thank you
Andy - 5-Jun-19 @ 6:10 AM
Hi I work upstairs in a sort of office in a workshop, I have noise from the technicians that I can barely hear my phone calls. I have to carry vehicle parts upstairs (body panels) cant carry properly.. I also sit in temperatures of 10-12 degrees.. I spend 80% of my day at my computer.. also I have no natural light.. I would like to know what my rights are here as I have complained many a time especially about the cold.. I'm the only one on site with this issue and everyone finds it funny.. please advise
Someone - 30-Apr-19 @ 2:20 PM
I have become ill over the last 6 months and I've had chest, sinus infection and eye infection in concession when I approached my general manager as it was concerning me he was defensive and said I could not see the air con report as i suspect there isn't one. He got me to leave thecwork.place and go home. I had handed in my motice i week prior because of how I was feeling and I gave i months notice. I had to callparamedics again at the weekend and discharged, tgey are sending me for immune test etcand sadly if I don't go into work I don't get paid as it's discretionary. He got me to leave the premises yesterdayand was extremely incensatice tomy asking question . I asked if Icould see the certificate of maintenance of the ACit he said I couldn't. I'm now off but dont know how I stand legally.
Silv - 25-Apr-19 @ 8:16 AM
Hi, I work in an office with 8 other people, we have no ventilation system, no air conditioning and no open windows. in the office is a toilet and a kitchen. I have asked for an opening window or a ventilation system, I have been there 8 years but still nothing. During the summer the temperature in my office reached 32deg. i felt dizzy when i stood up, went home every day with a head ache, and could not concentrate on my work. I don't want to leave as I am due to retire in 18 months,
Bru - 24-Apr-19 @ 10:42 PM
I injured my left arm - (I already have lymphoedema due to cancer) when stretching to open a window in a small room with printers and copiers giving off heat. I had to strecth over a printer that was sitting on the window sil. Also there was copy paper boxes in the way. I ended up pulling the muscles in my arm and shoulder. Since then a lump has appeared on my shoulder. I am awaiting scan results. I sometime loose sensation in my fingers since this and pain in my arm. Can I sue them as I am sure windows should have easy access...
suze - 16-Apr-19 @ 12:08 PM
Hi I work on the first floor of a building open to the public. Our heating / air con system is a weird air balancing system stopped working months ago.There are no opening windows. Our clients by nature of our business suffer with a variety of illnesses. The temperature on our office in November has been 28c. Many staff are constantly I'll with colds, sore throats etc for months on end. I myself have been unwell since early September. The hierarchy to get the fan on the roof replaced is proving long slow and resistant as will be expensive. Management think dehumidifiers will help and we have some desk fans, but ultimately the lack of fresh air is the big issue. What can we do / demand as it is getting ridiculous !!
Survey - 8-Nov-18 @ 4:55 PM
I work in a call centre, we have windows and water but no fans or air con, with the weather we have had this week it has been more like 35-36C in our workplace, surely they is something to say they should provide fans or something to help us work better?
Jay - 28-Jul-18 @ 12:11 PM
I work in a mailing house.we have no windows and cannot have any doors open due to security.we also do not have any air con.just fans .recently I was bit by a bug which resulted in me having to go to my local A and E. I unfortunately had a severe infection with my face and ear swelled like a balloon .was given 3 lots of meds 1 including steroids.also time of work.
Jay - 12-Jul-18 @ 11:41 PM
I work in a small cctv office with lots of equipment that give off lots of heat there is also no windows no air ventilation apart from a small window leading inside a corridor but no outside ventilationand we have had no aircon now for over a year , they did approve a new one but due to aspedos in the pipes and hidden away they had to stop it for the mean time it’s currently 30c outside and feels hotter in hear we have fans blowing around hot air , what is our rights to this as as cctv controller it’s making us fall asleep and very low energy
Hitman34 - 6-Jul-18 @ 11:49 AM
I work in a bingo and our air conditioning has not been working for approx 4 weeks..there is no ventilation no windows except in the managers office and no way to cool down as the temperatures have been extortionate in the premises esp the kitchen area.we are not permitted to use any fans and must wear full uniform at all times..what are our rights as employees..the manager told staff that it would be at least 10days for it to be repaired if it has been reported at all..
And - 30-May-18 @ 2:54 PM
I work in a care home kitchen .the extractor fan has been broke now for 4 weeks !! It's so hot in there took a reading today .. 130 degrees had to leave work early couse I was sick if the heat felt nauseous . And I was soaked with sweat .. sory .. can I say am not go in back to work till it's fixed . Under health an safety think I can . Don't want to loose my job . But the thought of go in through that again tom is making me sick x
Lyno - 27-May-18 @ 8:46 PM
I work in an office where their ar two doors always closed, no Windows or air conditioning systems where is this on health and safety aspect. We are thou in and out to the W/house but we can be in there for at least 1 to 2 hrs more sometimes. Thank you
Merlin - 26-May-18 @ 6:21 AM
I work in a packing room within a warehouse, where we produce a "health" powder drink made from over 20 natural health foods, ie wheatgrass and barleygrass powder. we have no extractor fan and everywhere is covered (including staff) in green powder. one staff member is having serious breathing problems at present. our employer insists that an extractor fan is not needed as we have an industrial vacuum cleaner? what can we do ?
greenman - 1-May-18 @ 8:29 PM
i work in a care home in the laundry it has no windows. and no proper ventilation only a air vent which in the summer days the hot air comes in and in the winter the cold air comes in .it get very hot in the laundry with the washers and dryers on all day is this right .for me to be working all day in.
jan - 1-Apr-18 @ 9:52 PM
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
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