The importance of draught management in the workplace

You might not think that draught management is a major workplace concern, but maintaining reasonable temperatures should be a fundamental responsibility for employers.

Thermal comfort in the workplace is about creating optimum conditions for employees to be able to work in.

Draughts may be annoying, or distracting, but they can also have a more significant impact on employee health and wellbeing.

Why is it important to manage draughts?

Draughts can impact people’s health. They can cause colds, headaches and even muscular tension.

If the throat is in contact with a draught, it can lower the temperature of the pharyngeal mucosa.

When this occurs it dries out the mucosa, which reduces its effectiveness to protect itself from the pathogens that cause colds.

Draughts from open windows and doors can cool down the muscles in the body, causing them to harden.

Normally, muscles will interact, but when cooled down, they work differently to warmer areas of muscle.

This can lead to a physical imbalance, which people experience as tensions in the neck, shoulder and back. The results can be painful and prolonged.

What is the impact of draughts on the workplace?

Muscular pain can be distracting, causing people to lose focus and not be able to perform at their best. Ultimately, productivity suffers, as can workplace morale.

This pain, along with the colds that draughts bring, can also lead to people having to take time off work for sickness. Again, this impacts on productivity.

For employers, there is also the potential for reputational impact. If employees see workplace conditions as being a sign that their employer is not looking after them, it can lead to difficulties retaining staff, or even recruiting fresh talent.

Do employers have a legal obligation to prevent draughts?

HSE provides guidance on managing workplace temperature, which outlines employers’ responsibilities in ensuring thermal comfort. This includes reducing draughts.

In indoor workrooms, HSE defines a reasonable working temperature as usually at least between 16°C and 13°C.

There should be forms of local heating or cooling to maintain it.

Thermal comfort is difficult to define because it includes a range of factors and describes a person’s state of mind rather than their actual body temperature. It is about whether they feel too hot, or too cold.

But it is important because the more comfortable people feel, the more effectively, and safely, they will work.

Employers should be reducing exposure to the cold, but also ensuring that employees are not too hot. 

Both of these approaches involve reducing and managing draughts.

How can you manage workplace draughts?

Managing draughts in the workplace includes finding out where the sources of them are.

This is usually a case of blocking the gaps and holes which are letting in cold air. These can be areas around windows and doors, or gaps between floorboards.

A simple test for draughts is to hold a hand against the area to feel for any flow of air coming through.

However, although blocking draughts is the right approach, it is also important to ensure that you still allow air to circulate freely in the room.

Without sufficient ventilation, air can become stale, humid or hot. Indoor workplaces should have sufficient fresh or purified air.

Air conditioners and heaters in draught management

Draughts can be the cause of a room being too cold, but also when the space is too warm and windows or doors are therefore kept open.

One solution to draught management is to maintain the optimum temperature consistency through the use of air conditioners and heaters.

Installing a cooling or heating system that is specifically designed to meet the needs of your workspace will give you much better control of temperatures. This will ensure your employees are experiencing the right degree of thermal comfort to complete their tasks.

Air conditioning is a versatile technology. For example, split air conditioning systems are an affordable answer to heat or cool individual rooms; while variant refrigerant flow (VRF) systems are ideal for larger commercial premises. They are highly-efficient, reliable and ultimately cost-effective for heat recovery.

Wall Mounted units can provide rapid cooling and heating to ensure the space reaches the required temperature in less time and with maximum efficiency. When the units are placed strategically around the workplace, it will help to an entire building, factory or warehouse at a consistent and comfortable temperature for your employees.

Efficient heating systems tailored for specific commercial workspaces include direct-fired warm air heaters, radiant tube heaters and air handling units.

Act now to manage draughts and maximise thermal comfort

If you’d like to learn more about heating and cooling in the workplace, do not hesitate to contact us to learn more. We provide specialist commercial and industrial HVAC management solutions to clients across UK. Call us on 0800 243 638, email, or complete our online enquiry form.

Author: Gareth Whalley
Sharing my vast knowledge in the Air Conditioning and Mechanical services field especially in HVAC installation, service and maintenance across a broad range of sectors, including Healthcare, Education, Transport, Banking, Retail and Commercial developments.