Planning and designing workplaces safely
The German Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV), together with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, implements EU Directive 89/654/EEC. It contains the basic requirements for workplaces. When planning workplaces, it is particularly important to comply with the ArbStättV. Here, we are mainly concerned with the design of a workplace. What criteria must be met for noise protection, how much light is necessary and what must be considered concerning the indoor climate? If you are planning new workspaces with WSM’s mobile room systems, you will receive competent support in implementing the Workplace Ordinance.
Noise is known to cause stress in the body and strain to the psyche. Concentration and attention span decrease as a result of noise. The result: the frequency of errors increases and the efficiency of the employees decreases. The Workplace Ordinance therefore states that the sound pressure at work should be as low as possible so as not to disturb concentration or necessary conversations. Depending on the activity, a sound level of 55 dB(A) to 70 dB(A) should not be exceeded in office workstations. In practice, however, the value of 55 dB(A) is difficult to adhere to and is envisioned for particularly demanding work, since a person usually generates a sound pressure level of 63 dB(A) when speaking. Nevertheless, the guideline values provide a good orientation, because the human being adapts his conversation volume to the ambient noise: the louder the noise in the surroundings, the louder the person speaks.
The quality of workplace lighting has an impact on performance and well-being. Inadequate lighting can cause eye strain, burning eyes, flickering vision or headaches. Offices should be sufficiently provided with daylight via appropriate windows or light shafts. Where this is not possible – for example in hall offices – a sufficient level of lighting must be achieved through artificial light. The minimum illuminance level is 500 lux. This value does not apply to the entire room, but to the workplace area. In the remaining area a minimum value of illuminance of 300 lux is necessary.
Employees find a room climate comfortable if the temperature and humidity are within certain tolerances and the air is regularly replaced by fresh air. Ideally, offices are regularly ventilated through open windows with fresh air. Where this is not possible, ventilation and air conditioning systems must be used which are cleaned, maintained and repaired on a regular basis in order to exclude health hazards. Otherwise, well-being, concentration and performance can be disturbed. The air temperature in offices must be at least 20°C. Recommended air temperatures are up to 22°C. The limit of 26°C should not be exceeded. If the outside air temperature is above 26°C and appropriate sun protection measures are used, the air temperature in the work area is allowed to be higher. When exceeding an air temperature of 30°C additional appropriate measures must be taken. If the air temperature in the room exceeds 35°C, without special measures the room is not suitable as a working space for the duration of exceeding this value.