‘We are told we cannot use fans in work, as there is a health and safety risk. Is this correct?’
It really depends on your clinical area and the fan you are using.
In January this year a safety alert was issued about fans and the risk of cross-infection1.
The fan has to be bladed and have a removable cover so that the blades can be cleaned. With bladeless fans, although the external surface can be decontaminated there is no assurance that any contamination within the internal mechanism will not be disseminated back into the surrounding environment.
Fans should not be used where known or infectious patients are being treated. This is because they could disperse any infectious material.
Remember that although there is no maximum temperature set in regulations your employer still has a duty of care to you. Under the NHS Workplace Health and Safety Standards the criteria reflects UK H&S Regulation and states: the temperature should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing2.
If your workplace is feeling too warm a fan may not be the best solution as it just moves the warm air around, rather than cooling it.
Please check out our CSP resource on temperature control in the workplace.3
If you have a CSP safety rep discuss and agree a course of action to monitor the situation and gather the data on the temperature and the impact it is having on staff and on patients. If you do not have a safety rep now is the time to think about who in your team could take on that role and help to coordinate the work to seek to resolve the issue for the members.
Author : Claire Ronald is a CSP Senior Negotiating Officer
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