Size of the place of work / workroom
The place of work shall be designed in a way that allows the employee to change his or her position and find a suitable working position. The amount of available space in the place of work shall be calculated in a way that allows sufficient freedom of movement for the employee to perform his or her duties. If this is not possible due to special conditions in the place of work, the employee shall be provided with adequate space for movement in the vicinity of his or her place of work.
Workrooms shall be of sufficient height and area to enable employees to carry out their work without risk to their health. A workroom shall have volume of at least 10 m3 per employee (up to 3.5 m of room height shall be taken into account when calculating the volume). The length, width and height shall be measured and multiplied to calculate the volume. For example, the ceiling height is usually 2.5 metres, in which case a minimum of 2 metres by 2 metres of floor space per employee is required, i.e. 2 x 2 x 2.5 = 10m 3 of volume per employee. The 10m 3 volume provided in the legislation is a minimum requirement and not a recommended suitable workroom size.
If you imagine a floor area of 2 x 2 metres, it is still a relatively small space. When calculating the size of the workroom, the furniture, equipment and other work equipment necessary to perform the work shall also be taken into account. Consideration shall be given to the movements the employee makes in the course of his or her work and whether he or she has enough space to make the movements in such a way that there is no constant risk of hitting oneself, for example, against the edge of the table. If, for example, due to the nature of the employee’s work, packages or materials are brought to his or her workplace, there shall be sufficient space for this.
The selection and placement of furniture should take into account that an employee shall be able to move freely to his or her workplace, meaning that corridors and passageways shall be of sufficient width considering the number of employees using them. Also look at the objects in the immediate vicinity of a passageway, such as cabinets and shelves with sharp edges. You can use the minimum required width of 900 mm for passageways as a basis (only in certain cases). Generally, escape routes shall be 1,200 mm wide.
The indoor climate of the workplace – the air temperature, and humidity and air velocity – shall be suitable for performing duties and supply of fresh air to the places of work shall be ensured. When determining the appropriate indoor climate, the number of employees in the room, the mental and physical burden on the employees, the size of the workroom, the peculiarities of the work equipment used, and the nature of the technological process shall be taken into account.
Legislation does not provide specific numerical ranges for temperature, humidity and air velocity.
The recommended temperature ranges depending on the nature of the work are as follows:
- 20–25 °C for work that is performed sitting down and does not require physical exertion;
- 19–24 °C for work performed sitting down or standing, i.e. that involves walking and certain physical exertion;
- 17–23 °C for work involving walking, moving small items or objects (up to 1 kg) while standing or sitting and involves some physical exertion;
- 16–22 °C for work that is performed standing and involves walking and manual handling of smaller (up to 10 kg) loads which require moderate physical exertion;
- 15–20 °C for work involving continuous movement, moving and handling of heavy loads (over 10 kg) which require a great deal of physical exertion.
People feel comfortable when the relative humidity of the air is 40–70%.
If the relative humidity is too low, some people experience eye irritation or even inflammation, nosebleeds or dry mucous membranes. If the air is too dry, review the methods and organisation of cleaning the premises, check the composition of flooring and wall materials with the aim of reducing dust content and static electricity in the air.
Relative humidity that is too high (85% and above) promotes the development of micro-organisms (moulds), especially in areas of the room that have poor ventilation and the temperatures is below average. Exposure to mould can cause allergies in humans.
Poor indoor climate causes discomfort in the workroom, has a negative effect on a person’s capacity for work and can cause health problems. Symptoms resolve and gradually disappear after leaving the workroom/premises.
Signs of a bad indoor climate are:
- irritation of the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or throat;
- skin irritation;
- headache or heavy feeling in the head;
- unnatural fatigue or difficulty concentrating, nausea and dizziness.
A poor indoor climate can affect the course of many illnesses, in particular respiratory infections and conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and sinusitis.
Employee complaints are the main sign that an employer should check the parameters of thermal comfort with the available measuring instruments. It is recommended that at least two parameters of thermal comfort of the working environment – temperature and relative humidity – could be controlled by employees themselves if they so wish.
Draught or excessive air velocity also reduces the employees’ thermal comfort, causing hypothermia of the entire or some parts of the body. Large windows cause airflow, especially in the cold season, so it is advisable to protect places of work from the cold radiating from window glass surfaces and from the sun during warm seasons. Heaters should be positioned in such a way that they prevent cold airflow. It is also advisable not to position workplaces near the inlets of the ventilation system. The use of an air distribution box or other means of directing and dissipating the airflow helps to reduce the air velocity in the workplace.
Ventilation means indoor air circulation. Ventilation is necessary to keep the rooms clean and fresh and to keep the air pollutants at a healthy level. Without air circulation, the air indoors becomes polluted quite quickly. Inhalation uses oxygen in the air and carbon dioxide is exhaled, which causes fatigue if it exceeds a certain level. It is also necessary to properly ventilate damp rooms, as excessive humidity is harmful to health and can also damage the building. Ventilation also removes bad odours and excess dust. In production buildings, it is necessary to ventilate chemical fumes and dust generated in the production process, which are dangerous to humans.
Places of work shall have adequate ventilation – what is considered adequate depends on the room and the work being performed there. Fresh and clean air should come into the premises from outside and then directed into the workrooms. It is important that the air intake is away from smoke stacks or air ducts that may contaminate the air being supplied to the interior.
The ventilation system should remove hot and humid air from the premises and mix it with fresh air and provide employees with sufficient fresh air without creating draughts and discomfort. If equipment is used in the workrooms that generates heat, dust, exhaust fumes, vapours or other pollutants during operation, more fresh air is required to ensure the necessary ventilation.
Adequate ventilation may in some cases be provided by windows or vents, but regularly maintained mechanical (forced) ventilation shall be used where more efficient ventilation is required.
Air circulation is also one of the factors that influence the thermal comfort of employees. Thermal comfort consists of environmental factors (e.g. humidity, heat sources in the workplace) and factors that depend on the employee (e.g. clothing, physical difficulty of the work). The different preferences of different employees make it difficult to find the right indoor temperature for everyone. For example, in places of work where no manual labour is involved (offices), the indoor temperature should be higher than in places of work where more physically demanding work is performed.