The working environment can make a significant difference to the comfort of employees. It can also impact on their motivation and productivity. Therefore, it is important to know the different factors that can impact on working conditions and what you can do to control these. One factor that can affect the working environment is humidity. However, it is possible to take steps to limit the negative impact this has on the working environment.
What Causes Low Humidity?
Throughout the year, humidity levels can sometimes drop. This is most common when there are cold and dry spells in the winter. Electronic equipment in the workplace can make this worse, as can an HVAC system that heats incoming fresh air. When the humidity level is lowered in this way, workers can begin to suffer from physical symptoms. This is an issue that you should resolve so that employees do not feel uncomfortable at work. Though we can use a humidifier to solve the low humidity problem, we would like talk a little deeper today.
Can Low Humidity Cause Physical Problems?
The most common symptoms associated with low humidity are a stuffy nose, a dry throat, sore eyes, and dry skin. Often, these symptoms are mistaken for a cold or an attack of the flu. In other cases, people blame the symptoms on a condition known as Sick Building Syndrome. Another symptom linked to low humidity is itchy red marks around the ankles. Sometimes, people think that these are caused by flea bites, but that is rarely the case. It is most likely that the cause is synthetic carpet fibers becoming charged and creating static electricity. This is a phenomenon known as either illusory parasitosis or the phantom flea effect. Another problem associated with static being created is the potential for equipment to fail.
Are There Guidelines for Humidity Levels in the Workplace?
HSE has put guidelines in place that accompany the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992. These state that dry heat is often caused by electronic equipment and this can alter the thermal environment. According to the guidelines, it is important to maintain good humidity and ventilation levels to prevent sore eyes and discomfort. It is recommended by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers to maintain relative humidity levels between 40 % and 70%. These figures relate to the amount of water there is in the air as a percentage. If humidity levels begin to drop below 30%, that is when people will begin to experience problems.
What Steps Can You Take to Overcome Low Humidity?
Although some devices can control humidity levels, it is not always possible for a workplace to have these fitted. This is usually because of either a lack of finances or constraints due to the building’s design. However, there are other steps you can take to modify the humidity levels in the workplace. One option is to lightly spray the carpets with water first thing in the morning. Similarly, you can try putting a small bowl of water by the radiator. Another option is to add pot plants around the workplace and then water them regularly. It is also important to encourage employees to start drinking more water throughout the day.
Are There Ways to Monitor Humidity Levels?
What employees consider as a comfortable level of humidity is subjective. This means that while some people may find the environment humid, for others it may seem dry. The best way to monitor humidity levels is to listen to the staff. It is not possible to please everybody, so you should listen to what most of the employees say rather than one individual with a different view. This way, a larger proportion of the workforce will feel comfortable in their working environment. If many people in the workforce say they are not comfortable in the environment, it is worth paying for an independent audit.
It is important to note that this is general guidance, and you may need specialist advice from experts in your area. This is an issue that you should take seriously to ensure employees are working in a safe and comfortable environment. You should also make sure you are following guidelines and regulations.