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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in National Indoor Air Quality Month

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National Indoor Air Quality Month is observed every year in October. It’s a good reminder to everyone to take a look at their homes and businesses and find ways to improve the air we all breathe as we typically spend nearly 80-90% of our time indoors.

OSHA has identified key elements that lead to IAQ complaints in the workplace:
• Improperly operated and maintained heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems
• Moisture infiltration and dampness
• Overcrowding
• Presence of outside air pollutants
• Presence of internally generated contaminates
• Radon

OSHA encourages businesses to think in terms of the “Three Lines of Defense” to reduce or eliminate the air quality hazards, and always apply the most effective method first, beginning with eliminating/engineering hazards and going from there.

Three Lines of Defense:
• Eliminating/Engineering Controls – removing, substituting and/or enclosing the pollutant source should always be the first option. If the source cannot be eliminated, then setting up engineering controls, such as a local exhaust, general dilution ventilation and air cleaning/filtration is the next step.
• Administrative Controls – next line of defense falls into three general categories:
  -Work schedule: eliminating or reduce the amount of time a worker is exposed to the pollutant
  -Training: educating workers on the sources and effects of the pollutants under their control, so they can proactively reduce their personal exposure
  -Housekeeping: keeping your workplace as free from dirt and pollutants through the use of mats at doors, proper storing practices, and the use of cleaning products
• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – if the first two lines of defense are not feasible or enough to eliminate or lessen the exposure and keep your workers safe and healthy, then PPE should be used to control your workers’ exposure, including the use of respirators, gloves, protective clothing, eyewear, and footwear where necessary.

Did you know most people spend 90% of their time inside? The pandemic has brought indoor air quality (IAQ) front and center in the discussion on keeping people as safe as possible. IAQ refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures. Poor IAQ is not a new concept as most of us have heard of Sick Building Syndrome, where occupants may experience headaches, dry cough, dizziness, and even difficulty concentrating because of the poor air quality.

Inadequate ventilation is a key component, and right now in the COVID-era we are currently in, ventilation and air cleaning opportunities have been the talk of the town. Advanced ventilation systems allow for more airflow from the outside, as well as monitoring air quality and having air purification technologies in place to clean the contaminated air and prevent it from spreading to different areas. These technologies are becoming more commonplace, but definitely not universally adopted.

Even though COVID-19 has caused many businesses to look more in-depth at their IAQ, it’s also a chance to test for other air quality issues. There are literally hundreds of other air contaminates that cause issues in the workplace, but the most common and usually the most harmful besides the coronavirus are tobacco smoke, dust, mold and mildew, chemical pollutants and volatile organic compounds.

Concerned about the IAQ? Workplace Safety & Health Inc. can help you identify and manage risks posed by air quality through monitoring, mapping, fact-finding surveys and evaluations. Our program now includes COVID-19 testing, and our blog, Opening Back Up COVID-19 Free, lists those particular services.
During National Indoor Air Quality Month and every month, we are here to keep your most important assets safe – your employees. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

Posted by on in Uncategorized

October is National Indoor Air Quality Month, an observance aimed at drawing attention to the quality of what we breathe every day. It’s comes at an appropriate time, as the outdoor weather starts to turn colder and many of us will tend to spend an increasing amount of time outside of work by staying indoors.

Many people spend much of their working hours indoors year round, of course. In recent years, public health authorities have taken a critical look at what we are breathing at the office. Not surprisingly, a growing body of research suggests that poor air quality has a negative impact on health and productivity. In the 1980s, the term Sick Building Syndrome was coined to describe multiple health issues linked to improperly designed and/or ventilated buildings. These include ailments such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, or eye/throat irritation – symptoms that may cease after an occupant leaves the building.

Studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that sought to compare the risks of environmental threats to public health show that indoor air pollution from sources such as secondhand smoke, radon, organic compounds, and biological pollutants are consistently among the top five factors.

In general, most indoor air quality problems in the workplace can be traced to six main sources:
-Inadequate Ventilation – This involves lack of adequate fresh air and uneven distribution of fresh air within a structure.
-Humidity and Temperature – These concerns involve levels outside the normal range of human comfort.
-Inside Contamination – Possible sources of contamination include office equipment such as copy machines, office and cleaning supplies, and chemicals that are stored indoors.
-Outside Contamination – As the name suggests, this includes contaminants brought into a work environment, such as by means of an improper air intake or changes in wind conditions (for example, exhaust gases drawn into a ventilation system).
-Microbial Contamination – This is typically associated with water leaks, water infiltration, increased humidity indoors, humidifiers, and contaminated ventilation ductwork – places that can harbor and encourage the growth of microbes.
-New Building Materials – The results from building materials that have just been installed (the familiar phenomenon of gasses emitted by new carpeting is one example). In new construction, processes known as “bakeout and “flushout” employ an unoccupied building’s heating, venting and air conditioning system to expedite the process of venting these gasses.

Fortunately, technology can also be employed to monitor and assess air quality in a building long after everyone has moved in.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to help our customers reduce injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices. That includes helping to identify and manage risks posed by air quality. Whether your workplace is indoors, outdoors, or both, our consultants can determine air quality exposures through monitoring, mapping, fact-finding surveys and evaluations that include qualitative exposure assessments, and air monitoring surveys. So call us. And start breathing easier.

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