Air Con Problem at Work

brigadear

Frequent Poster
Messages
66
Hi Folk, not sure if here is the most appropriate for query, mods, please move if you think so.

I work in a office in large building, at least 7 floors and there is serious problem with the air con across the building.

Since August of last year I have been out sick 3 times because of it and I am at the stage where I am sick of it as my employer is not listening when I or my colleaues raise the issue.

Of the 3 times, I have been sick I actually ended up in hospital because it was cold and at the moment I am currently out sick for the past week.

The issue is that it goes from really hot to frezzing cold, blowing cold air directly below me, it is more cold than hot. It gets so cold that we have to wear jacket or hoddie.

I have raised this everytime with management and they usually just say we will get contractor look at it but then its back to square one and usually it could be a week before anybody looks at it.

Does anybody know the legal side and obligations an employer has in this area as I have been looking at the health and safety authority website for guidance bt I am unsure on the matter.

Thank You
 

Tixerb

New Member
Messages
4
There is an age old problem of some (usually women) feeling too cold in an air con workplace and others (usually men) feeling too warm without air con. It's biology, both genuinely feel that way. Personally, I think it's easier for those who feel cold in workplace to wear more clothing as opposed to those feeling too hot being able to wear less.

There is no legal requirement for a specific temperature in the workplace in this country. HSA recommends between 18-23 C.
 

SoylentGreen

Frequent Poster
Messages
384
I worked with a girl who would switch to heating mode when everyone was at lunch. We all returned to a sweltering sweat box after lunch and spent the rest of the day trying to cool the place down. Those of us in windowless offices really suffered.
 

NoRegretsCoyote

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,162
I'm assuming you're female. You should bring a thermometer to work and keep records otherwise it's just anecdote.

I have had this issue with female colleagues in the past. Men (on average) prefer a temperature that is 1°-2° colder than women.

Whenever I've ever felt uncomfortable in an office it's because it's been too hot.
 

odyssey06

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,999
Can you move desks? Sometimes the desks are placed too close to aircon outlets eg a gap should be left to walls, windows so that it flows along outside of desks.
 

Thirsty

Frequent Poster
Messages
2,259
Office heating / cooling systems are based on male averages.

Women often find the settings too low in office environments and its frustrating when you feel you're not being listened to.

Record the daily temperature at your desk.

Ask to move to another location.

Ignore the smart-ass comments about what clothing you wear.
 

odyssey06

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,999
Sometimes its not a case of putting on a jumper. If the air is that cold it will dry out skin and sinuses ...
Too low or too high a humidity is not healthy.

Maybe get one of those temperature and humidity devices and keep note of the mins and maxs.
 

Leper

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,051
There are some people here "taking a poke" for the fun of it. However, there are some medical conditions that make it difficult to breathe in specific conditions usually involving airconditioning. Airconditioning affects people in different ways. I would advise that you seek medical advice asap.
 
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POC

Frequent Poster
Messages
153
Have a look at the HSA.ie website.
There are rules about temperature and ventilation.
'for sedentary office work, a minimum temperature of 17.5° C, so far as is reasonably
practicable, is achieved and maintained at every workstation after the first hour’s work'
I suggest you read in full the sections about temperature and ventilation. From my quick scan of it -
a thermometer should be available to measure temperature, and air conditioning should not cause employees to be 'exposed to draughts which cause discomfort'.
You could contact the HSA for advice after reading more.
It seems shocking to me that your workplace are not taking this seriously, especially when you've been hospitalised multiple times.
I'm also surprised that other posters are being so flippant about putting on a jumper. If the temperature is constant, you can dress appropriately. But if it is fluctuating that is unreasonable.
 

brigadear

Frequent Poster
Messages
66
Folks, thanks for some of the suggestions.

We don't have access to adjusting the settings, this is done at a central point. The issue of men and women being either to hot or to cold is not this situation as our team is made equally of men and women and everybody in my team is feeling the cold, but couple of us are feeling a bit more than others as one of the vents is directly above us blowing strong cold air. Nobody comes in wearing dress's and tshirts, most people wears jumpers but have to literally put on their jackets because of the cold.

I have spoken to the HSA today and they have advised based on the information that I provided that would have strong case to report my employer. I will speak to my employer first when I return at the end of the week, and hopefully they can began to take this serious.
 

Purple

Frequent Poster
Messages
9,387
Folks, thanks for some of the suggestions.

We don't have access to adjusting the settings, this is done at a central point. The issue of men and women being either to hot or to cold is not this situation as our team is made equally of men and women and everybody in my team is feeling the cold, but couple of us are feeling a bit more than others as one of the vents is directly above us blowing strong cold air. Nobody comes in wearing dress's and tshirts, most people wears jumpers but have to literally put on their jackets because of the cold.

I have spoken to the HSA today and they have advised based on the information that I provided that would have strong case to report my employer. I will speak to my employer first when I return at the end of the week, and hopefully they can began to take this serious.
If there is cold air being blown directly onto you then there is an issue with the design of the ventilation/ air con system.
My apologies for my flippant comment above; this is not just an issue of the thermostat being set too low, it is a building design flaw.
Can you get everyone in the office to sign a letter to your employer outlining the issues?
 

NoRegretsCoyote

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,162
@brigadear

You will strengthen your case immensely if you have a diary record of when the problem started, when it was most severe.

You will also need a written record of raising the issue with management.

Otherwise you could get into a "he said/she said" situation.
 

AlbacoreA

Frequent Poster
Messages
3,388
Had the same issue in a few building. Staff resorted to putting cardboard on the ceiling to redirect the vents. Eventually management (after years) agreed to disconnect certain vents/fans causing direct drafts. Some people were allowed to move desks away from vents.

I find when people have a cough dry air in air conditioning triggers it and makes it worse. Car, train, office etc. People often have to work from home or take time off until they recover.

Some offices I've been kept a log of temps, and also had little flags of paper to work out airflow in an office. Once office I was in had temps at times of 28-32. Impossible to concentrate in that heat, if you are not used to it. Also switching between extreme hot and cold seems cause colds and coughs in people. See that a lot on public transport.
 

Sconeandjam

Registered User
Messages
48
Your employer has a legal obligation for the welfare of their staff.
All complaints must be taken seriously.
You have to go to your occupational health officer or office safety manager and demand an air quality assessment is carried out. It is possible if you are getting sick it could be due to the filters not being changed regularly. They are legally obliged to do this. I think it should be carried out yearly. Do make sure all correspondence is done by email and not verbal.
There is an average working temperature as much as it is reasonably possible this should not be allowed to fluctuate too high or too low. This is also the responsibility of your employer. The HSA will have guidelines for office air and temperature.
 
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