Having fresh air and good ventilation in your office is often considered to be one of the most important requirements to ensure the health and comfort of the staff. In spite of being a basic and commonsensical necessity, it is one of the first things to be found lacking or inadvertently absent. The Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can be seriously compromised by a high percentage of moulds and allergens, potentially dangerous gasses or even volatile organic compounds among others. And these are further cultivated by either the initial faulty construction or attempts to economize office supplies and space.
Labeled Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), inferior indoor air is responsible for causing intense discomfort in the form of headaches, congestion and respiratory difficulties, skin allergies, nausea and even high levels of stress that manifest themselves in psychosomatic ways. It might initially start off with a couple of employees falling ill which is often dismissed, before it gradually starts affecting larger numbers. If you notice that in the past few weeks many of your employees seem to be under the weather and have similarities in their symptoms, you might need to investigate. You might find that certain ergonomic factors in the office construction or functioning have been impaired, and some of these are very serious and need to be tackled immediately.
While most of these hazards don’t usually pose long-term threats, and the effects fade away once the employees have left the office premises, there have been cases of long-term impairment. So rather than wait for your employees to sue you, it might be better to have a quick look around the office while knowing what exactly you should be checking for. Moulds and allergens emanate from damp walls and unclean carpets, and are even fostered when the ventilation is poor. Carbon monoxide is frequently found to be in high percentages in spaces that have faulty central heating systems or if staff are allowed to smoke within the premises. Volatile organic compounds might also be found in cleaning liquids, air fresheners, printer ink, glues and adhesives. And besides these, is the basic carbon dioxide that every human being breathes out at the rate of about thirty-one exhalations per minute.
Well now that you know what to look for, here are a few ways on how to eliminate or at least reduce these hazards. Vents, air grills and HVAC systems should be made a priority on the list of office maintenance. These should not be blocked or damaged in any way and their number should always increase in direct proportion to the expansion of office staff. All leakages and faulty equipment should be eliminated or resolved, while carpets and other office furnishings should be regularly cleaned. However, it is not always a given that new appliances and fixtures carry less impurities. Very often pollutants are contained in the packaging material or are the most harmful during setup. Whenever installation or maintenance is being conducted like painting, pest control or cleaning operations, it would be advisable to make sure that your staff is not present. This is because at these times there is a larger concentration of dirt in the air, which should be avoided as far as possible. If it is absolutely necessary to have the regular staff around, then equip them with the right devices to help minimize risk.
While selecting plants to beautify your space and also reduce carbon dioxide levels, it is important to consider ones without pollen. Some of your employees might already have pollen allergies, and it would be better in the long run to eliminate this potential hazard completely. Separate areas for smoking, eating and storage should be demarcated and these guidelines need to be strictly adhered to. This will help to drastically cut down the level of impurities while ensuring that the office functions efficiently.
The quality of the air is not something we can determine or control completely, but there are definitely ways in which we can eliminate the pollution we unconsciously encourage. It is therefore always advisable to have a consultant or a representative from the local health organization regularly advise on possible ways to improve the air quality. And just as we attend to security and safety issues, making these small changes will go a long way to guarantee that your employees are not only healthy and secure, but also optimally efficient.
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