Temperature can play a huge role in how comfortable you are at work. If you’re working outdoors, the temperature of your working environment isn’t really something you’ll have much control over. But if you’re working indoors, there are several things you can do to make sure the temperature of your workspace is just right.
Keeping a static ambient room temperature, which can be easily adjusted depending on the season (i.e. warmer in winter and cooler in summer), is a great way to keep yourself and your teammates comfortable at work.
Battling the heat
If the temperature at work is too hot, even in the cooler months, you might consider asking your employer to:
- Insulate hot pipes
- Install an air conditioning system
- Provide desktop or standing fans for all team members
- Make sure all windows can be opened and closed by those working in the area
- Move workstations out of direct sunlight
- Allow for additional refreshment breaks
Combatting the cold
If the temperature at work is too cold, this can cause particular discomfort for those working and living with arthritis, as it can often cause symptoms to worsen. In this case, you should approach your manager about:
- Providing local heat sources, such as portable heaters
- Reducing draughts by upgrading doors, windows, insulation or draught excluders
- Installing insulated floor coverings
Working in a dry or humid environments
Whilst for some people with arthritis, it’s the wet and damp weather that affects their joints, causing them to be more stiff and painful, for others, hot and humid weather can be the trigger.
If you find the environment at work to be too dry or too humid, speak to your employer about:
- Having access to a humidifier or dehumidifier — whichever will help
- Being allowed to work remotely or in another work location to limit your exposure to these conditions
Reducing heat stress
Heat stress happens when your body is struggling to control its internal temperature. There can be a number of different causes, including:
- Working too quickly
- High humidity in the working environment
- Work or safety clothing
Often, it will be caused by a combination of all three, for example where someone is doing heavy work in hot and humid conditions, with sweating being restricted by their clothing.
Symptoms of heat stress include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Muscle cramps
- Heat rash
- Severe thirst (a late symptom)
- Heat exhaustion – fatigue, dizziness, nausea, headache, moist skin
- Heat stroke – dry skin, confusion, convulsions, and eventual loss of consciousness
To reduce the risk of heat stress in the workplace, you can:
- Try to bring the temperature down by using fans, or installing an air conditioning system where possible
- Use mechanical aids to reduce the rate of work
- Regulate the length of exposure – take regular breaks
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
- Speak to your employer about PPE
Keeping things consistent
Having large temperature ranges in the workplace can affect comfort and performance. Try to use some of the strategies above to limit the range of temperature at work and maintain a more consistent, and comfortable, working environment.