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The Work Environment

It makes sense that people that are happy within their working environment will work far more effectively and happily than those who are uncomfortable: it therefore makes sense to consider certain aspects of your employees workspace quite carefully.

Noise

Noise can be the cause of irreversible hearing damage and also lead to increased levels of stress. Noise is normally caused by loud machines and so when buying any new plant or machinery remember to check the noise emission levels. The remedies are usually quite simple i.e. providing your employees with hearing protection, rotating the staff who work close to noisy machinery to decrease their exposure times, and clearly marking any 'high noise' areas to warn people of the risk.

Ventilation

Fresh air is one of the most important elements of a working environment for several reasons: respiration, the removal of excess heat and the dilution of various airborne impurities (dust, fumes, tobacco smoke, body odour).

Adequate ventilation can be provided by simply allowing windows to be opened. Air conditioning systems can not be counted as fresh air systems as the air is recirculated and therefore not as effective, particularly as it can still carry germs and other impurities.

Lighting

There are various reasons why lighting is important in the workplace, two of which are: to illuminate potential hazards and to prevent eye strain.

There are various other considerations such as the facts that flourescent lighting should not flicker, there should be no glare, and there should be no sudden contrast in levels of lighting. All light fittings should be kept clean and ideally the ceiling should be light coloured to reflect the light.

Temperature

The minimum temperature for sedentary work is 16 degrees Celsius (about 60 degrees Farenheit)and for work involving physical effort the minimum should be 13 degrees celsius (about 55 degrees Farenheit). Thermometers should be provided to allow monitoring of these levels. Where extreme temperatures apply i.e. work involving furnaces or freezing compartments, employees should be provided with the correct clothing and extra work pauses to allow recovery.

Stress

Stress is becoming a more and more important issue in the world of work; it can be caused by many factors ie. the nature of work, the pace of working, payment systems, repetition and monotony, shift work, the behaviour of other employees. Although different employees will react differently to different situations so it is difficult to prevent stress occuring, it is wise to bear in mind that stress does exist and may at some time become an issue. Stress and Your Health

The Environmental Law Centre is a Registered Charity that specialises in helping to protect your Human Rights on issues that concern Health and the Environment.
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