Indoor Air Quality in the Workplace
As an employer, it is crucial to ensure you provide a safe and healthy working environment. You need to carefully consider all aspects of your workplace – from equipment standards to the quality of your staff training. As a constant environmental factor, indoor air quality in the workplace is vital to the everyday health and wellbeing of employees. But how can you ensure the air in your workplace is clean and healthy?
Identifying Indoor Air Quality Issues
Think about all of the pollutants in your workplace. Can any of them escape into the air? Consider all possible sources of pollution (there may be more than one potential ‘source’ in the same piece of equipment) and establish exactly where pollution can escape. Next, decide what the best remedial action is. Can you remove the pollutant at source? Or can you bring it down to a safe level? Although the best possible solution would be not to have the pollutant in the workplace altogether, removal at source is naturally the next best alternative.
Sick Building Syndrome
‘Sick Building Syndrome’ is the name attributed to a condition that only occurs when a person is in a certain building or room. This is generally due to poor ventilation or the presence of a certain pollutant in the air. Symptoms often include headaches, fatigue and skin complaints. The symptoms occur when the person is within that environment, and then improve when he or she leaves. You can usually recognise ‘Sick Building Syndrome’ as such when there is more than one person suffering from similar complaints within the same environment.
Controlling Indoor Air Pollution
If you do have to control exposure to indoor air pollutants, there are a number of different possibles ways to do this. It may be possible to minimise exposure using just one or two of the below techniques, or you may need to use a combination.
Isolate the Source
Can you isolate the source of pollution using a physical barrier?
Minimise Length of Exposure
Ensure people are not exposed to the pollutant for lengthy periods of time. A possible solution may be to give staff breaks at regular intervals or to require them to work in another location.
Opening windows or using extraction can dilute the concentration of pollutants by removing them from the building altogether.
Can you apply filters to the pollutant source? If so, will they clean the air sufficiently?
Conduct an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Investigation
The best way to ensure indoor air quality in the workplace, is to conduct an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) test. A professional IAQ test will look at a range of different factors, and establish the presence of various pollutants.
How does the IAQ process work?
IAQ investigations begin by gathering data. This information needs to come from data sources within the building. Data sources may be attached to workers, as well as strategically placed throughout the workspace. From this data, you may see patterns in the levels of pollution as to the time of day, location etc.
An occupational hygienist will use this data to look at the presence of carbon dioxide (CO2), particles and dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemicals and biological substances.
The occupational hygienist will then be able to offer expert advice based on the data gathered. They will advise where your focus needs to be and which corrective action to take.
Creating an IAQ Management Plan
Following the IAQ investigation, you will be able to take steps to effectively manage indoor air pollution in the workplace. Your occupational hygienist will help you to develop a management plan as well as policies and procedures to maintain high air quality. However, remember that any solution needs to be embedded into your daily working practices. Additionally, you need to ensure regular measurements and audits take place to ensure control measures are working properly.
Get in touch with Workplace Exposure, either give us a call on 0800 689 4386, or fill in our enquiry form to discuss your monitoring or consultancy requirements.
We’ll then provide you with a no obligation proposal, we can often give an initial idea of fees whilst we discuss your needs.
Once you’ve accepted our proposal we can then schedule the work.
Following our site visit we’ll provide you with a comprehensive report giving you advice, recommendations and control measures where appropriate.
Implement the outcomes for compliance and a happier healthier workplace.