How Evaporative Coolers can help boost productivity
People, power and productivity
If you’re running a warehouse, you know that people are a valuable resource. Even with automation in place, people are needed to keep things moving, and with low rates of unemployment and a growing need for reliable people, the businesses that prioritise their people’s safety and comfort are the ones that will reap the biggest productivity gains.
Lower-paid positions are becoming harder to fill, and we need our people working harder and smarter, while also feeling confident about their safety at work.
We know there’s a correlation between good working conditions and labour retention. Put simply, if we can provide a good working environment for our teams, they’re more likely to be productive and stay in the job.
Obviously overheating and heat stress are major workplace safety concerns, but a study by Helsinki University of Technology in Finland found that even at temperatures of 25°C, worker performance starts to decrease.
- Productivity losses vary by climate zone, with warmer zones seeing larger losses, but on average, annual productivity losses decreased by 17% with the addition of elevated air speed (at 160 fpm (0.81 m/s). So fans can impact productivity.
- For every additional 1°C increase in temperature, you’ll lose another 2% in performance.
- Anything above 32°C and heat-related illness risk increases and safety concerns increase, and heat stress becomes a very real risk.
Understanding heat stress
Strenuous activity that increases your metabolic rate will increase the amount of heat your body produces. If you’re undertaking this activity in a hot environment, your body is less able to reject heat into its surroundings, and we can overheat.
Heat stress is the build-up of heat in our bodies to unhealthy levels, and in severe cases, it can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
A bit of heat when you’re at the beach or relaxing in a sauna is ok — you’re generally pretty stationary at those times. However, working in excessively hot temperatures can be extremely dangerous.
In the 10 years to 2019, there were 1,774 workers’ compensation claims resulting from working in heat, and 441 of these were claims regarding heat stroke or heat stress.
As building operators and owners, we have an obligation to create a safe, comfortable indoor environment, especially in warehouses where thermal comfort is key to keeping workers safe and healthy.
Legally, the onus is on facility managers to ensure a safe work environment, without putting workers at risk of heat stress. There’s a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their workers and anyone else in the workplace, and this includes ensuring workers aren’t exposed to dangerous temperatures or extremes in heat and cold.
Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) regulations within all states and territories mandate that:
- Ventilation must allow workers to carry out work without risks to health and safety
- Workers carrying out work in extremes of heat or cold must be able to carry out work without risks to their health and safety
If you’re expecting high levels of activity in a hot warehouse, you’re setting up a potential heat stress risk that could result in low productivity, illness and even litigation.
High temperatures will also mean unions expect an increase in breaks for workers.
Depending on your location in Australia, there are different requirements for rest breaks when certain temperatures are reached. For example, in cooler regions, a temperature of anything over 30°C requires extra breaks, so the higher the temperature in your warehouse, the longer the downtime.
How fans can help
The human body is constantly working to maintain its ideal temperature of around 36°C, and sweating is one of the most effective ways we have of doing this.
As temperatures increase, the balance is harder to maintain, and when air becomes humid, it’s more difficult to regulate our temperature through evaporation of sweat from our skin. Fans help with this by creating airflow that evaporates perspiration from our skin, carrying away heat.
The airflow also reduces the thickness of the hot, humid layer of air that builds up around our bodies, which improves heat dissipation. In short, fans make our natural cooling mechanisms more efficient.
So air movement reduces the likelihood of heat-related illnesses and accidents by making employees feel cooler and more comfortable.
For example, in a warehouse with a temperature of 29.4°C, productivity decreases by 8.8%, however, with air movement from fans the warehouse temperature will feel like it’s 25°C, improving comfort and productivity.
An evaporative cooler (Cool-Space) offers the same benefits as an air conditioner, at a fraction of the running costs. It harnesses the power of evaporation to physically cool the air temperature by as much as 18°C. With the capacity to hold 242 liters of water, an evaporative cooler can last up to 10 hours without a hose connection, meaning your employees remain productive for longer.
For larger areas, our airflow experts have engineered the ultimate cooling solution, combining Cool-Space evaporative coolers with Big Ass fans. When you pair your Cool-Space coolers with our industrial overhead fans, cold air is distributed throughout your facility, delivering a cooling solution that is second to none. When used in tandem with overhead fans, Cool-Space coolers provide maximum cooling and coverage, silently delivering comfort and energy savings to your facility without costly A/C use.
Fans are also much more economical than air conditioning, especially in large warehouse spaces. In spaces which already have air conditioning, fans can increase the efficiency of air conditioning, by circulating cool air throughout the building.
See how an Evaporative Cooler from Big Ass Fans could transform your space. View the evaporative coolers here.
 Australian Institute of Health and Safety report
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