ASHRAE Funds Research into Keeping Kitchen Workers Comfortable

As the old saying goes, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” But for the 12.2 million people in the United States employed in the restaurant industry, getting out of the kitchen is not an option.

Seeking to provide a cool and comfortable working environment for those kitchen workers, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is funding research in thermal comfort in commercial kitchens. A 2005 report by the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York and the New York City Restaurant Industry Coalition found that “nearly half of the 530 workers surveyed reported that it gets unsafely hot in the kitchen where they work.”

“Understanding thermal comfort in commercial kitchens is paramount to understanding and providing a controlled and comfortable environment for kitchen workers,” said Greg Duchane, a member of ASHRAE’s technical committee 5.10 on kitchen ventilation that is overseeing the project and manager of retail market sales, Trane Commercial Systems. “This research can be used by engineers and kitchen consultants in designing HVAC systems and in the operation of restaurants. It will give us more accurate understanding of employee comfort and how employees are impacted by heat loads.”

The research will include walk-in surveys and on-site data collections of operational commercial kitchens in selected cities across the United States. ASHRAE is accepting proposals on this and 16 other proposed research projects. Submissions are due May 18, 2009. For more information, visit ASHRAE's Web site.

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