Air quality is a big deal wherever you happen to be, but if you are trying to ensure the safety of your workers, it understandably becomes of paramount importance that you manage to create a safe environment with adequate ventilation.
Here is a look at some of the steps you might need to take so that your workforce can enjoy better air quality and stay safer as a result.
It may be that you have already taken measures to improve air quality in your industrial building, such as considering the use of a fume extractor to help you comply with basic federal requirements.
It is probably fair to say that if you haven’t already considered an initiative like this, you might not only be risking the prospect of not even meeting basic air quality requirements, but you could also be suffering in terms of poor employee engagement and reduced productivity.
Some industrial locations are more challenging in terms of air quality than others of course, and a metalworking facility, for instance, is likely going to pose more air quality issues than a warehouse setup.
Regardless of the environment that you are subjecting your workforce to, every effort needs to be made to reduce exposure to dangerous pollutants, dust, fumes and other threats to the air quality within the building.
Regulating the quality of indoor air
OSHA regulations provide clear guidance on air quality and compliance with these set standards is mandatory.
The positive approach to take when it comes to these regulations would be to consider them as a bare minimum and look to employ some extra initiatives to meet more stringent indoor air quality minimum levels, such as those laid out by the EPA IAQ guidance.
If you adhere to a superior IAQ standard, this should be a win/win situation on several fronts. It will mean that you are improving air quality for your workforce and tackling any issues with smoke and fumes for instance, plus your business should benefit by not only keeping workers healthier, but by attracting and retaining employees in greater numbers, as a result of your actions.
Defining the flow of air
A good starting point would be to establish what general ventilation in your building actually means.
Sometimes also referred to as dilution ventilation, general ventilation is the basic term used to specifically define the flow of air both into, as well as out of the working area. What you are looking at is how efficiently any contaminants are diluted by adding some fresh air.
This fresh air can be provided by natural ventilation, which is the wind pressure and temperature differences achieved through fresh air passing through the building. The air can also often be provided by mechanically controlled fresh air.
Controlling the flow of air is vital, as it provides the right amount of oxygen to be able to breathe comfortably and removes the right amount of carbon dioxide as well. It also assists with keeping a comfortable temperature that remains consistent, and fresh air also dilutes odors.
The problem with a lack of fresh air
Insufficient flow of fresh air to your building is a problem for a number of different reasons.
Common symptoms experienced with a lack of fresh air in the building, include constant headaches, lethargy, eye and skin irritation, plus a host of other difficulties, most of which are symptoms that tend to be known as sick building syndrome.
A lack of fresh air in your building is a big problem, which is why adequate ventilation and other measures are required, in order to control and reduce exposure to harmful contaminants and maintain a healthy workplace environment.
Dealing with the issue
If you are experiencing issues and complaints regarding the air quality and a number of workers are complaining of recognizable symptoms associated with poor conditions, action need to be taken to deal with the problem.
Although there are some standard ventilation solutions that may be appropriate it is often the case that as each workplace environment is unique, due to the layout and location conditions, it may well be prudent to consult a professional opinion. A professional can evaluate the air quality and offer a viable solution to ensure that your workforce are kept safe and happy at all times, which can only be a good thing in so many ways, including worker, productivity and ultimately, your bottom line.
About the author
Louise Abbott is a workplace safety officer who enjoys her role so much that she even writes about it! Her articles appear on business blogs all over the internet.