If you’re a business owner or building manager, you know the importance of ensuring the health of your employees. The health, comfort, well-being and productivity of employees and building occupants is greatly impacted by the indoor air quality in the workplace.
According to a 1989 EPA Report to Congress, improved indoor air quality results in higher productivity and fewer lost work days. The EPA also estimated that poor indoor air quality may cost the nation tens of billions of dollars yearly due to lost productivity and medical care costs.
So how do you maintain quality indoor air in your workplace? In this article we’ll discuss recommended advice for indoor air quality, how to know when you have air quality issues, and more.
Signs your workplace has air quality issues
Sometimes it can be hard to determine exactly if symptoms are related to air quality issues. If your employees/building occupants frequently complain about one or more of these symptoms, you should conduct an indoor air quality test.
- Irritation in nose, eyes, throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
Sick Building Syndrome
Sick building syndrome occurs when these symptoms subside after leaving the building. According to OSHA, here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if sick building syndrome is happening to you or your employees:
- Do you have symptoms that just occur at work and go away when you get home? What are these symptoms?
- Are these symptoms related to a certain time of day, a certain season or certain location at work?
- Did the symptoms start when something new happened at work, such as renovation or construction projects?
- Are there other people at work with similar complaints?
- Did you already see a doctor for your symptoms, and if so, did the doctor diagnose an illness related to IAQ?
Maintaining good indoor air quality
So now that you know how to determine if you’re having indoor air quality issues in your workplace, let’s discuss how to maintain air quality.
Air Ventilation. First of all, it’s important to ensure your building has good air ventilation, especially in rooms with paints, adhesives, copying machines, and other VOCs. You can learn more about VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in our other blog post about indoor air quality.
Temperature. Another solution is to use temperature controls to prevent humidity in the building. Moisture and dirt can create molds and other biological contaminants. Meanwhile, low humidity levels can cause irritated mucous membranes, dry eyes, and sinus problems. High humidity levels can be maintained with humidifiers, refrigerators and ventilation equipment.
Workplace temperatures should be maintained between 68 degrees – 75 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels between 30% – 60%. In addition, drafts caused by too much air circulation should be avoided.
Smoking. Establishing and enforcing an effective smoking policy is another way to maintain air quality. Enforce smoking areas to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke.
Make smart purchases. When making new purchases for your building, consider indoor air quality. Try to avoid any products that contain heavy amounts of chemical pollutants.
Communicate with building management. If there are any issues within your building, make sure you tell building management immediately. However, it’s important to maintain a good relationship with them even when there aren’t issues. For example, talk about limiting pest control to only when necessary, and see if you can use methods that don’t contain harmful chemicals.
If you’re going to remodel or renovate the building, work with the building manager as well as with the contractor to keep your building occupants safe from pollutants. This is important because up to 30% of new or remodeled buildings worldwide have indoor air quality issues, according to WHO.
Conduct air quality tests. Lastly, one of the best ways to maintain indoor air quality is to check it frequently. Not only do we conduct indoor air tests for homes, but we also do them for office buildings. If you want to conduct a test in your office building, contact us today.
Maintaining indoor air quality is simple as long as you stay on top of things and pay attention to your employees and issues in the building. We hope this article is helpful for maintaining the health of your building occupants, and we would love to help you with maintaining indoor air quality in your building.