Summer is here and workplaces are hotting up. If you’re at work and the room is too hot, there is always the temptation to react by letting some ‘fresh air’ in by opening a window or a door. But think twice, because this may not be the best alternative to switching on the air conditioning or getting a new system installed. Here’s why:
Air pollution – the air coming in your window is probably not as ‘fresh’ as you think. According to figures released by Friends of the Earth Scotland in January, there are now 38 zones in Scotland where safety standards for air quality are regularly broken – five more than last year. The situation is so bad the Scottish Parliament launched an air pollution inquiry last month.
Traffic-related air pollution, mainly fine particles and toxic gases, has been linked with cancer, allergies, asthma, strokes, heart attacks, restricted foetal development, damaged lung development in children, and more recently, the onset of dementia in adults.
Noise pollution – Ever tried to concentrate on work when you can hear every lorry go by, car horn sounded, child scream and HGV reverse?
Nature – even if you’re out in the countryside away from roads and industrial sites, open a window and all manner of things from the natural environment can blow in – from pollen (think hay fever sufferers sneezing) and insects (bees, wasps, crop pests) to birds and the wind itself.
If you’re working in a food preparation area, you need to ensure food can’t be contaminated by such airborne risks. If you’re at sea, there’s also the risk of waves sending seawater onto your controls and paperwork.
While opening a window may seem a good idea to cool down your workspace, it’s no match for a professionally-installed air conditioning system for several reasons.
Temperature control – temperatures in indoor workplaces are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which place a legal obligation on employers to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace.
Opening and closing windows is an ineffective and inefficient way to ensure you can meet that obligation as you have no control over the temperature of the air entering the space. Or the change in temperature it will create or how even it will be across the space. Potentially profitable time will also be wasted doing the opening and closing.
Last month we explained the productivity implications of poor temperature control. People’s bodies using glucose to control their temperature not only stops their brains working optimally but also leaves them physically drained, resulting in higher fewer sick days for colds, flu and headaches.
Health & Safety – another health and safety risk for anyone working above the ground floor is the risk of things or people going OUT of the windows to the injury or damage of them or anyone beneath the windows. The person hit by the thing thrown out as a joke won’t find it funny and may sue.
Humidity – humidity is one of the six factors which contribute to the thermal comfort Health & Safety regulations say you must provide. Open a window and you throw away the control over it a professionally-installed air conditioning system will give you. Another is air velocity.
Health & Safety – An open window on a ground or lower floor is an invitation to opportunist thieves when your workspace is unoccupied. It only takes seconds to unplug a computer, grab a handbag or mobile phone. An open window will probably also invalidate any insurance claim you or staff make.
Brand image – If you’re in the hospitality industry, providing a properly temperature-controlled environment for guests is a basic requirement. Poor ventilation is one of the main complaints about hotels and telling guests to open a window is not a solution that will get you the five-star Trip Advisor review or recommendation which will bring you more business.
So, unless you or our boss is a risk-averse version of Scrooge McDuck, you can see that opening windows is no substitute for a modern, professionally installed air conditioning system which will help you avoid all these risks and problems. And even Scrooge will be pleased at how little it costs!
Aiken is an experienced independent air conditioning and refrigeration specialist servicing the industrial, commercial and marine sectors across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Dundee. For more information please contact us directly.