Categories: Safety, Strategy & Industry Insights,
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How Clean is the Air Your Employees Breathe?

Most Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors. Poor indoor air quality can cause all kinds of ailments and discomforts, including many that can mimic symptoms of allergies, stress, colds, and flu. These issues can lead to a wellness issue for your company.  Indoor air quality in the workplace is affected by many factors, including:

  • The site of your building
  • Renovations
  • Maintenance of air-handling systems
  • How densely the building is occupied
  • Activities that take place inside

Many indoor air quality problems are associated with improperly operated and maintained HVAC systems, overcrowding, radon, moisture and dampness, and the presence of outside air pollutants. Then there are the internally generated contaminants like cleaning supplies, aerosol products, mechanical contaminants, and improper temperature and humidity levels.  The following are major indoor air pollutants and their sources (including, but not limited to):

  • Carbon dioxide (improperly vented devices, processes, or operations that produce combustion products, human respiration, unvented gas and kerosene appliances)
  • Carbon monoxide (fossil fuel engine exhausts, improperly vented fossil fuel equipment, tobacco smoke)
  • Formaldehyde (off-gassing from formaldehyde foam insulation, plywood particle board/paneling, carpeting and fabric, glues and adhesives)
  • Ozone (copy machines, electrostatic air cleaners, electrical arcing)
  • Miscellaneous inorganic gases like ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide (window cleaners, acid drain cleaners)
  • Asbestos (insulation, other building materials)
  • Microbials (viruses, fungi, mold, bacteria, pollen, mites; air-handling system condensate; cooling towers; water damaged materials; damp organic materials; hot water systems; plants; food products)

So what can you do about it?  There are some good OSHA resources here, and here, or you can contact your BWC Division of Safety & Hygiene representative, or a Sheakley Client Relations Manager at 888-743-2559 can point you in the right direction.


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