What to do when AC isn't an option in the workplace....

The early heat wave has put significant pressure on our ability to manage thermal comfort levels across all areas of the Faculty which has caused discomfort for many of us and our students. We also are well aware that quite a number of buildings across all campuses do not have air conditioning.

If you are finding the heat unbearable in your workspace, an option could be to relocate to the library, coffee shops or other air-conditioned offices within the university. If this is not an option for you, have a chat with your supervisor and see if there is another option such as working from home.

Importantly, any person with signs and symptoms of heat stress (e.g. feeling generally unwell or experiencing nausea, dizziness, weakness, clumsiness, collapse and convulsions) should seek immediate first aid or medical attention. Be aware of these signs and symptoms in others.

Where practical, workplaces that are buildings need to be capable of maintaining a temperature range that is comfortable and suitable to the work. Optimum comfort for sedentary work is between 20°C and 26°C, depending on the time of the year and clothing worn. In enclosed workplaces, comfortable rates of air movement are usually between 0.1m and 0.2m per second. Staff undertaking work requiring physical exertion usually prefer a lower temperature range.

Where the indoor temperature in areas of light work such as offices reaches an ambient temperature of 30–32°C, staff will be entitled to a 10-minute break at the end of each 50 minutes with access to cool drinking water. When the temperature reaches above 32–35°C, the breaks will increase to 20 minutes at the end of each 40 minutes. When the temperature exceeds 35°C, staff should preferably be relocated to a cooler environment, or be given the option of leaving work for the remainder of the day without loss of ordinary pay.

If a staff member has a medical condition that puts them at a higher risk of heat stress or similar, then they must bring to the attention of their supervisor any medical restrictions in warm conditions.  A doctor's certificate setting out the risk and restrictions may be required.