5 Reasons Your Workplace Needs Air Quality Testing
Posted in Air Quality, on September 27, 2019
Businesses across Ontario are taking note of the indoor air quality of their businesses and are having regular workplace air quality testing as part of their maintenance schedules and health and safety routines. As technology and the workforce changes, indoor air quality has become an issue that employers know affects the health, comfort, and quality of work their employees are able to perform.
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality is a way to describe how the air we breathe inside any building affects our comfort, health, and ability to live/work. It includes temperature and humidity, but also exposure to chemicals, mold, and poor ventilation, among other things. Workplace air quality testing can help to identify problems in your office as well as offer solutions that reduce harm and improve working conditions to make your office and safe and healthy place to be.
The Top 5 Reasons Your Office Should be Tested
1. Improved indoor air quality reduces absenteeism.
Indoor air quality has a direct effect on the ability of people to work efficiently, safely, and effectively, and a decrease in air quality leads directly to an increase in sick days and absenteeism related to discomfort or illness. The most obvious way that indoor air quality may cause these problems is by helping to spread germs - poor ventilation or a lack of adequate fresh air can cause unwanted viruses to linger or spread. Other effects of poor indoor air quality may be more difficult to identify than a cold or flu - poor health like headaches, drowsiness, or nausea can be caused by mold growth, chemicals from cleaning supplies, or a build up of biological allergens and pollutants in the ventilation system. Workplace air quality testing can help identify these problems and offer concrete solutions to improve office conditions - resulting in fewer sick days and a happier workplace.
2. Improving indoor air quality is easy.
Many employers will be concerned that improving indoor air quality at the office will cost the company thousands of dollars - it can, but there are also dozens of small improvements that workplace air quality testing can help to identify that are inexpensive or free. Three easy changes are:
- Switch to scent free and low VOC cleaning products, since many of these sprays and solutions contain harmful and irritating chemicals.
- Become a scent free workplace by asking your employees not to wear perfumes, colognes, or body mist. Many people have severe allergies or reactions to the chemicals in these products.
- Growing plants in the office not only brightens up and adds aesthetic appeal, but it can also have a qualitative effect on indoor air quality. Many common houseplants actually help to reduce toxic chemicals in our air by absorbing them - so much so that NASA studied this back in the 80s for use on space missions.
3. Buildings built before 1980 could have asbestos.
Before we understood the long term effects of asbestos, the ‘miracle mineral’ (as it was known) was used in a high percentage of construction projects across Southern Ontario - the World Health Organization estimates that 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos in the workplace. Asbestos isn’t dangerous unless it’s disturbed, which is easy to do during routine maintenance, renovations, or after a flood, spill, or accident. Workplace air quality testing can easily help to determine whether asbestos is present and in what quantities. Materials containing asbestos are commonly found:
- near insulation pipes or boilers
- in ceiling or floor tiles
- around ducts and partitions
- in some types of roofing and cladding
Asbestos causes no immediate symptoms or irritation, but decades later can cause serious, untreatable lung problems and incurable cancer. Before any work at the office, check with your building supervisor or maintenance team to find out if asbestos is present and what kind of measures will be taken to protect your workplace, employees and to contain asbestos dust.
4. Your building could be the cause.
There are many ways that the physical structure or layout of your office could be affecting or exacerbating indoor air quality issues. Some of these problems are easy to fix but others may be structural or due to the way the building was designed and built. Many offices or buildings, for example, lack windows that open. Fresh air is one of the key features of good indoor air quality. If your office has fixed windows, increasing the ventilation and ensuring that ducts have filters installed and that the fresh air return is in an area well away from places where trucks idle or smokers congregate can have a subtle but positive effect on the working environment. Workplace air quality testing can help determine if ventilation that needs improvement or if there’s another aspect to your building that is causing poor air quality.
5. You are liable for the health and safety of your staff.
Indoor air quality isn’t something that employers can ignore - amendments to the Health and Safety Negligence bill in 2004 opened the way for employers and organizations to be criminally prosecuted for failing to provide a workplace that is safe to breathe in. This means that any complaints about indoor air quality from employees must be followed up in the same manner as any other health and safety concern, and that businesses could be liable if concerns are ignored or problems arise from unsafe practices or negligence.
SafeAir Can Help Test Your Office
If you have concerns about the air quality in your workplace, professional testing can help you identify existing problems or address specific concerns about equipment, ventilation, mold, or asbestos contamination. SafeAir uses the latest equipment and technology to take air quality readings and provides you with a comprehensive, detailed report with recommendations for improvement that you can take to your insurers, board, or executive. If you’re interested in learning more about workplace air quality testing, call us today at 416-414-5690 or visit our website at www.safeair.ca for more information on our products and services.