Preparing for Hot Weather Working Conditions

Grainger Editorial Staff

You don’t have to be an environmentalist to see that the weather is getting warmer and more extreme—or to prepare your business for it. Just look at the oil and gas industry, where CEOs have been quietly readying their companies for decades, by building higher drilling platforms to accommodate more extreme storms and even rising sea levels.

As a business owner, you know the importance of planning for every contingency, however remote. If you haven’t thought about how you’ll deal with hotter heat waves and warmer average temperatures throughout the summer, now is a great time to start.

More Power

There are two big questions:

First, does your HVAC system have the power to handle the extremes that are part of this new reality?

Temperatures that were rare when you installed your system may now be more common in your area. If your air conditioner struggles to keep up, that’s a problem. When the work environment is too hot, your employees’ health and safety is at risk. Studies have shown that their productivity also diminishes, and they make more errors.

If your coolings system isn’t up to the job when heat waves hit, there are ways to supplement it:

You'll also want to make sure that the work environment is well ventilated. This is a complex issue, so it's worth doing some research:

Efficiency Pays

The second big question:

Is your HVAC system is as efficient as it should be?

Of course, all things being equal, you’d love to cut your energy bill and use the most efficient equipment, but there are other things to think about. It costs money to upgrade, and the most efficient stuff is often costlier than more basic models.

But hotter summers can change the calculation: Even a slight increase in average summer temperature can mean that you’re running your AC more often, which means higher bills—but also higher potential savings from more efficient equipment.

  • There are HVAC maintenance practices that can help you conserve energy, but there's a limit to how much you can achieve this way.
  • If you’ve been planning an upgrade anyway, you may want to think about what kind of increase in usage would justify more efficient equipment.
  • Or, if you’ve been trying to wring a few more years out of an aging system, it may be worth considering what the energy bill savings from a more efficient system might really look like in these hotter summers.

More Information

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Effects of Heat Stress on Construction Labor Productivity in Hong Kong: A Case Study of Rebar Workers

Washington Post, Scorching heat is driving down productivity around the world

Los Angeles Times, Big Oil braced for global warming while it fought regulations

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.


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