Creating a healthy workplace is not just about clean surfaces, fruit baskets and fluffy cushions, it is also about controlling the quality of the air that we breathe, and yet we tend to give very little thought to it.
We breathe in air constantly, filling our lungs with it, and yet we still do not think about what might be in it, and when we are indoors, we can often assume that there is nothing to worry about.
In this article, IAQ Services explain the impacts on the quality of the air in our workplaces and why it is so important.
Indoor air quality
The quality of the air in our workplaces can be impacted by a number of factors, and this is most evident in environments where chemical odours and fumes might be emitted. Sometimes it can even be visible in areas where a lot of dust might be produced, or where humidity or moisture levels are particularly high. In these types of industries, a close eye is paid to the air quality in the name of health and safety, and breathing apparatus can even be issued, but less attention is paid to the air in our offices.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought home to many of us how many things can be transmitted through the air that we breathe, and this was often intensified in confined spaces that did not have adequate ventilation. Many schools and offices then installed air quality monitors, but as the threat from the pandemic seems to have reduced, it has been pushed to the back of people’s minds, and yet, the threats still remain.
Allergies and asthma
The air is capable of carrying pollutants from outside as well as dust and pollen, and these can irritate the lungs and airways. This presents a particular problem if you have respiratory problems such as asthma, as it can make the problem worse and create asthma attacks or periods of long-term sickness. Ensuring the air in your workplace is clean can make it more comfortable for people to work and avoid some serious health conditions.
The coronavirus travelled from person to person through the air, but it is not the only virus that is capable of doing this. As people who are in close proximity cough, sneeze, laugh and talk, they exhale into the air around them, and any viruses that they may have will float around waiting to be breathed in by their next victim.
It is for this reason that many coughs and colds can be transmitted through a workplace so quickly. A proper filtration and ventilation system can help to reduce the viruses in the air and reduce the number of sick days being taken.
It has also been found that poor air quality can impact on the way that our brains work. The worse the air quality becomes, the harder it can be to concentrate. It can also make people drowsy and can affect the memory and other cognitive functions such as decision making, meaning that the productivity of everyone in the workplace can be reduced.
Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working environment, and this includes air quality. In addition to this, poor air quality can be responsible for increased sick days and dips in performance, which will all then lead to financial implications as well. It is therefore important that employers are aware of the air quality levels in their businesses and take reasonable steps to keep them under control in order to protect their workforce and their own financial situation.