Extreme Temperatures

Heat

During the summer months, some campus buildings may experience higher than normal temperatures causing working conditions to be uncomfortable at times.  Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to follow the tips below to handle the heat.

Tips to Beat the Heat

  1. If you are experiencing extreme indoor temperatures, contact Facilities Services for your campus to ensure that the ventilation system is functioning as designed
  2. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water
  3. Limit physically demanding activities
  4. Take rest breaks as needed
  5. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing
Note that some individuals may be more susceptible to heat effects especially in combination with poor air quality. If employees are feeling ill and are unable to work due to medical concerns, they are encouraged to inform their manager and seek medical attention.

Do Your Part

Building occupants can take the following actions to help keep indoor air temperatures to a minimum:

  1. Turn lights out and ensure computers and other equipment is turned off when leaving at the end of the day
  2. If possible, turn off regular office lights and use task lighting
  3. Close window blinds at the end of the day and keep blinds closed to keep out direct sunlight
  4. If possible, leave exterior office windows slight ajar at the end of the day.*

*If your office is located on the ground floor, ensure that all windows are securely closed and locked at the end of the day to prevent theft.

Specific WorkSafeBC Regulations

To determine acceptable temperature levels in the workplace, WorkSafeBC uses Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) as the standard measure for heat taking into account air temperature, humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation.

As the WBGT and physical work demands increase, work schedules may be modified to provide rest/recovery periods.  Light physical activity includes sitting to perform light manual work with hands and arms, and encompasses most office work. A summary of the WorkSafeBC criteria for work recovery cycles based on the WBGT and level of physical activity of the work are included in the table below.

WorkSafeBC regulation states that workers must not be exposed to levels that exceed the screening criteria for heat stress exposure. Note that a recovery period does not necessarily mean a complete break from work, but could include resting or performing light physical activities as described above.

Over the years EHS has tested areas of campus reporting high temperatures, however, recorded temperatures have very rarely approached or exceeded the WBGT limit.

If you have further questions please contact the Program Manager – Indoor Environmental Quality.

Heat stress guidelines

SFU has developed heat stress guidelines to help prevent the occurance of heat related exposures and illnesses in university students, faculty, and staff.

 

Cold

While unsafe conditions due to cold are very rare indoors, WorkSafeBC provides the following guidance for reducing the risks of hypothermia for outdoor work environments:

“Hypothermia can happen even on a mild winter’s day or on a damp day in fall or spring.  Proper clothing and adequate insulation work together to trap the warm air around the body.  The basic principle for preventing hypothermia is to stay warm and dry and be prepared for a sudden emergency.”

Tips For Handling the Cold

  • Dress appropriately for the weather. This may include extra layers, warm head coverings, and weatherproof clothing.
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration and exhaustion, which can lead to hypothermia.  Heated drinks can also be helpful but limit intake of coffee and tea.
  • Pace yourself during vigorous activity. Take regular breaks to get away from the cold environment.
  • Discuss potential warmer and/or drier areas of work with your supervisor if possible.
  • If you are experiencing extreme indoor temperatures, contact Facilities Services for your campus to ensure that the ventilation system is functioning as designed.

Please note that during the annual December holiday break, the University shuts off heat across the campus. If you require heat to a specific location during this time please notify Facilities Services.