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Guidelines for climate assessment

Tools, guidelines, and suitable gauges for practice

The climate at the workstation is important for the well-being and the health of the employees. In order to make sure that the climate assessment is not random, you will find tried and tested tools and guidelines, as well as information on suitable gauges here.

In addition to well-being, health, and safety, the motivation and the performance of the employees is also influenced decisively by the room climate. Thus, ideal room climate conditions should be aimed at for health and economic reasons. In this, the room climate is mainly determined by the air temperature, humidity, air velocity, and thermal radiation. This site addresses these room climate parameters, their measurement, evaluation, and assessment at different workstations with different climate conditions. Additionally, different tools for the practice in companies are presented.

DGUV Information 215-510 Beurteilung des Raumklimas - Handlungshilfe für kleine und mittlere Unternehmen (room climate assessment - guideline for small- and medium-sized companies)

The DGUV Information 215-510 (hitherto BGI 7003) uses a step model in order to assess the room climate. In a first step (room climate observation), questionnaires are used in order to find possible causes for complaints (e.g. general evaluation of the room climate, activity-related situation, air-conditioning system). The room climate observation is a qualitative measure with a relatively low measuring effort. This step enables the employer to collect information on the room climate conditions. As a result of this interview, the following is then defined:

  • whether the climate complaints can be eliminated with suitable, technical, or organisation measures or
  • whether room climate measurements for climate assessment are required.

In this, it is recommendable to also take into consideration the worst-case situations in the event of changing room climate situations (depending on the time of day, season).
Specifically for workstations under a thermal load, e.g. with air temperatures of more than 26°C and high humidities over extended periods of time, the instrument "Risikograph Klima - wärmebelastete Arbeitsplätze" (risk graph climate - workstations under thermal load) is reasonable and useful. It provides the option of using simple measurements of air temperature and relative humidity in order to obtain more detailed information on the room climate situation without performing a time-consuming and costly room climate analysis.
If the room climate observations are not sufficient in order to define measures for improving the climate situation, a room climate analysis is necessary in the second step. This is the case if the causes, evaluations and improvements, respectively, of a difficult room climate situation are not readily identifiable. The room climate analysis takes more time and is more expensive and must be performed by experts. For example, these experts may include safety experts, company doctors, or also experts of the accident insurers.
By performing the room climate observation and the room climate analysis, it should be possible to investigate the majority of the cases of room climate issues and to improve these by taking suitable measures. Only if the complaints persist despite implemented measures and the causes for mental aberrations regarding the room climate cannot be determined and eliminated, a room climate expertise is necessary in a third step.

BAuA booklet regarding the risk assessment - manual for occupational health and safety experts

The BAuA booklet regarding the risk assessment includes information on preparing and implementing the risk assessment on the basis of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The possible hazard factors are described in detail. In this, there is information on the type and the effect, thresholds, assessment criteria, and occupational health and safety measures for each hazard factor. Attached text modules may be used by occupational health and safety practitioners, e.g. in order to create checklists or for completing documentations. In another part, practical help (documentation templates, checklists, sources for ordinances and rules) are made available.
The section "Hazards due to working environment conditions" informs on the risk assessment, particularly when working under cold and heat. Initially, the effect of the climate on human beings is explained in a general part using climate variables, with the compensation limits for heat or cold stress being demonstrated as well. Then, a reference is made to the basic principles of climate determination. Regarding work performed in cold or hot conditions, possible types of hazards and their effects, as well as assessment criteria for a risk assessment are then demonstrated and suitable occupational health and safety measures for the respective situation are derived.
For example, cold stress may be reduced by increasing the room temperature and/or avoiding draught. Changing climate stress should be limited. In the event of unavoidable cold exposure times, personal protective equipment must be provided, recommended warming times must be complied with.
Heat stress may be avoided or reduced by taking technical measures, such as

  • building design,
  • airflow,
  • thermal radiation protection,

or ergonomic-organisational measures, such as

  • reduction of the work hardness,
  • heat dissipation phases,
  • acclimatisation,
  • personal protective equipment,
  • occupational healthcare.

The Booklet for risk assessment is available as online publication; the risk assessment portal is mainly based on contents included in this Booklet for risk assessment.
The approach for performing room-climate measurements (e.g. measuring heights, measuring times, measuring sites, requirements regarding gauges, current thresholds and reference values of climate parameters) is described comprehensively in guideline LV 16.

LV 16 parameters for assessing room-climate parameters

In the publication LV 16 parameters for assessing room-climate parameters of the Commission for Occupational Safety and Safety Engineering of the Federal States (Länderausschuss für Arbeitsschutz und Sicherheitstechnik - LASI), the room-climate parameters air temperature, humidity, air velocity, and thermal radiation, as well as their measurement parameters are described. Based on the state of the art (standardisation), it is explained how measures must be performed (measuring heights, measuring times, measuring sites) in order to be able to determine and assess room air-related parameters. Regarding the measurement requirements, a differentiation is made between orienting measurements and increased requirements measurements. In analogy to the step model according to BGI 7003, you will also find questionnaires for assessing the room climate without using gauges (room climate observation) and checklists for orienting climate measurements (room climate analysis) here as well. The questionnaires and checklists, as well as suggestions for suitable measures may be used in a modified manner for proprietary climate evaluations.
The LV 16 was reviewed in 2011 and adapted to the current state of the art and rules.

Gauges

There are different sensors, probes, and gauges for performing room climate measurements. If you want to use these, you must select them regarding measuring variable, measuring range, and measuring accuracy and use them properly according to the measuring problem. Regarding the proper use of the gauges, it is important to use the gauges on site prudentially, just like it is important to calibrate the gauges at regular intervals. Ultimately, measured values can only be analysed reasonably if the measurements are accompanied by a comprehensive and unambiguous documentation.
On part of the industry, numerous gauges are offered for measuring the room climate. For example, cheap gauges are commercially available that are used for commercial applications, e.g. in offices, in addition to private applications. For example, these include simple gauges for determining the air temperature and humidity that are based in different measuring principles. Practical experiences demonstrate that strong deviations from the target value are displayed frequently (+/- 2-3 K and +/- 10-15% relative humidity, respectively). Particularly regarding digital displays, high levels of accuracy are suggested by providing several decimal points, which may cause misjudgements and improper measures when applying the values.