Good air quality in your workplace has always been important but in the last 2 years, providing a work environment with good ventilation and air flow has been vital to reduce the possible spread of viruses, such as COVID-19 in buildings. Now more than ever, employees and members of the public visiting workplaces need the reassurance of quality air.
In an ever-changing environment employers need to respond to the growing need for a clean, compliant, risk-free indoor environment.
So, what do you need to know about air quality and how to improve it?
What is indoor air quality?
Indoor air quality describes the quality of the air within and around buildings. A range of temperature and humidity levels are needed to create comfortable working conditions.
Common Airborne pollutants that have the potential to cause serious health effects include:
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – harmful pollutants found in various everyday chemicals, such as air fresheners, cleaners, paints and varnishes. Carpets and furnishings can also release VOCs into the workplace.
- Formaldehyde – released from wood-based products
- Carbon dioxide (CO2)
- Carbon Monoxide
- Ozone – this can be produced indoors by some electronic equipment such as printers and photocopiers
- Biological contaminants – mould, fungal particles, bacteria and dust
- Moisture – from high levels of humidity
- Industrial pollutants – generated from such things as waste incinerators and vehicle spray booths
How does poor air quality affect health?
We spend a large amount of our time indoors, especially in winter. The extent of the effect poor air quality has on health depends on its concentration and the duration of exposure.
Poor indoor air quality can lead to a range of health issues including;
• Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)
• Tight Building Syndrome (TBS)
• Building-Related Illness (BRI)
• Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS).
• Occupational asthma
Symptoms of these conditions include headaches, poor concentration, fatigue, shortness of breath, and irritations.
Failing to monitor and control workplace air quality can lead to employee health problems which results in absenteeism and lost productivity. It can also lead to low morale and high stress levels among employees if they feel they are being put at risk.
What are the legal requirements for indoor air quality?
Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Occupiers Liability Act 1984, an employer has a duty of care to ensure that a safe and healthy environment is provided. The Approved Code of Practice accompanying the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, states that indoor air quality should be at least equal to, but ideally better than, the air outside your building. HSE document EH40 contains a list of maximum exposure limits and occupational exposure standards for specific gases as required by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations.
How do I check the air quality in my building?
At Equiptest we work to encourage all aspects of safe working environments. Ensuring good air quality is important, especially when building have been unoccupied for a long time, which is the case with lots of offices at the moment. One of the first steps to ensuring good air quality is to carry out a risk assessment of your existing workplace environment.
Our Comprehensive Indoor Air Quality surveys allows our Occupational Hygienists to evaluate and manage Indoor Air Quality within your premises using our professional expertise.
We check over 20 Indoor Air Quality parameters in each occupied room to produce a comprehensive risk evaluation. Including:
• Risk control of exposure
• Occupancy parameters
• Contaminant sources
• Ventilation rates – are measured, to ensure that they are satisfactory at removing contaminants such as carbon dioxide.
• Gas levels – Specific gases, such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, are assessed to ensure that the levels present are within the occupational exposure limits established by HSE.
• Air temperature, relative humidity, light levels and head height airflow are measured to ensure that the comfort conditions are optimal for your occupants.
Following the survey, a full risk assessment report is provided with a traffic light system including a risk rating of the tested area(s). We provide specific recommendations to help you achieve the safest possible working environment.
Why use Equiptest?
Equiptest has performed numerous indoor air quality investigations, helping hundreds of commercial premises and office buildings with poor indoor air quality.
We employ the latest scientific investigation techniques to identify likely causes of the problem and perform a range of chemical and biological sampling and analysis to identify issues and irritants to suggest the most optimal control solutions.
Our assessments are carried out in line with existing ventilation and Indoor Air Quality standards, building regulations and specific HVAC standards.
Other Indoor Air Quality services include:
• Indoor Air Quality
• VOC & Formaldehyde Monitoring
• LEED Compliance Testing
• Indoor Air Quality Plans
Protect your workforce
COVID – 19 has taught us that viruses can transmit effectively in confined indoor spaces such as offices. As buildings start to reopen it is vital that risk assessments are completed to ensure the air is of a good quality. Effective ventilation will need to be provided throughout buildings.
Contact Us today to make sure you are protecting your staff when they return to work.