Image: 06 Mar 2020 by Carrie Ocean Vibe News
We have all been bombarded with the recent coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a renewed focus on cleanliness of our surroundings in order to remain healthy and productive. However, the environment for our employees should not just be a concern because of a virus. Companies spend significant amounts each year to increase productivity, maximize efficiency and minimize waste and duplication. So why then is there seemingly so little concern for the quality of the air their employees breathe on a daily basis? With labor costs often representing a significant percentage of many company’s total expenses, why is there not more focus on indoor air quality (IAQ), which causes sick building syndrome?
A 2015 study by The Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Syracuse University, found that there is a direct link between IAQ and higher levels of cognitive functioning. It was found that offices with below-average pollutants and carbon dioxide (CO2) had much higher cognitive functioning scores. Would it not be safe to say that companies want their employees to have higher cognitive functionality?
In addition, according to multiple studies and expert sources, such as the Breathe Lung Association and the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), poor IAQ can cause an increase in absenteeism, health claims, and a reduction in productivity. All factors that will hit a company’s bottom line.
According to the CCOHS, some examples of common indoor air contaminants and their main sources are:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2), tobacco smoke, perfume, body odours – from building occupants;
- Dust, fibreglass, asbestos, gases including formaldehyde – from building materials;
- Toxic vapours, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – from workplace cleansers, solvents, pesticides, disinfectants, glues;
- Gases, vapours, odours – off-gas emissions from furniture, carpets and paints.
- Dust mites – from carpets, fabric, foam chair cushions;
- Microbial contaminants, fungi, moulds, bacteria – from damp areas, stagnant water and condensate pans; and
- Ozone – from photocopiers, electric motors, electrostatic air cleaners.
CCOHS outlines some of the primary health effects of poor IAQ:
- Dryness and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin;
- Shortness of breath;
- Hypersensitivity and allergies;
- Sinus congestion;
- Coughing and sneezing;
- Dizziness; and
With concrete evidence of the effects on employees’ overall health and the company’s financial success, is it not safe to say that it is not only ethical, but also smart business to ensure a company can effectively measure their indoor air quality? Nash Technologies Inc. can provide companies with the ability to monitor their air quality in real time through economical, easy-to-install wireless sensors, all feeding into an easy-to-use software platform!
Here are just some of the practical measures that office management can take when poor IAQ is detected:
- Review to ensure there is sufficient ventilation;
- Make sure air supply vents and return grilles are not blocked by furniture or equipment;
- Computers and other heat-producing equipment placed near or under an HVAC sensor device system can trigger cooling, even if the actual temperature for occupants is cool. Place such equipment away from HVAC sensors to avoid this situation;
- Establish an effective non-smoking policy;
- Read the information on common office cleaning products, new furnishings and building materials when making purchasing decisions;
- Encourage members within your organization to immediately report if they suspect an indoor air quality problem;
- Create a comprehensive Building Air Quality Action Plan.
Our employees are our most valuable resource, so we need to ensure that we are providing them with the healthiest environment possible!
Contact us for a quote today!
Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/iaq_intro.html
Breathe the Lung Association https://www.lung.ca/lung-health/air-quality/indoor-air-quality/work
Carrie, 2020’ Should We Work In Open Offices With The Threat Of The Coronavirus?’. Ocean Vibe News. https://www.2oceansvibe.com/2020/03/06/should-we-work-in-open-offices-with-the-threat-of-the-coronavirus/#ixzz6GQDUKo9d
United States Environmental Protection Agency, ‘An Office Building Occupants Guide to Indoor Air Quality’