Indoor Air Quality: A Guide to Workplace Safety With IAQ

While most Facilities Managers and Warehouse Managers are concerned with injuries like cuts, slips and falls, and forklift accidents, the air itself can be a leading cause of injuries. The indoor air quality (IAQ) of industrial plants, schools, healthcare facilities and other workplaces is often overlooked by management. Absenteeism and lost labor hours are linked directly to air quality. Poor air quality in facilities and spaces has been linked to headaches, fatigue, concentration issues, and ear, nose and throat irritation. Even specific diseases like asthma are directly linked to specific air contaminants, poor air quality environments, and damp indoor areas.

Indoor Air Quality Quick Facts:

  • 70% of waking hours are spent in the work environment
  • 30-40% of buildings are “sick” with IAQ problems
  • Particles are often recycled rather than captured
  • Upright vacuums, without proper HEPA filtration, compound the problem
  • It costs between $5,000 – $40,000 to diagnose IAQ problems
  • $5 billion dollars is spent annually on fixing indoor air pollution
  • IAQ-related health problems cost approximately $15 billion annually in medical expenses and workers compensation claims

While there are many contributing factors to poor indoor air quality, the majority of them stem from the following – most of which are easily fixable.

  • Poor ventilation and issues with mixing in outside air
  • Problems with fluctuating, inside temperatures
  • A wide range of humidity
  • Recent facility remodeling

Common contaminants like dust that may have come from recent construction, mold in damp areas, cleaning chemicals, or other airborne chemicals from gases are often the culprit for poor IAQ. The best way to fix this is simply through good ventilation and proper building care. Indoor dust is actually much more dangerous than outdoor. Containing bacteria, fibers, pollen, chemicals, fungi, and much more, dust particles float around in the air without proper ventilation. While OSHA does not have a direct standard when it comes to IAQ, the standards on ventilation and contaminants that often cause IAQ issues can be found here.

Clean for Health – Not Just Appearances

For the majority of people, cleaning is often conducted solely to improve appearances around the office and facility. The protection of workers’ health can rarely be the main reason for cleaning. Floors, and specifically carpets, are often the most common place for the buildup of contaminants and bacteria. During a professional cleaning process, there is a health benefit to all involved.

The cleaning process extracts pollutants and chemicals from your floors, reducing overall exposure and improving the indoor quality of air. Cleaning with the goal of pollutant extraction can be a huge improvement to working conditions and health protection.

carpet cleaning guide

Air Purification Systems

While a majority of facilities use a passive air cleaning method by pulling air through a filter, this is not always the best option for your health and budget. From and increase in electrical bills to spending more on filters, the budgetary side of passive air systems does not cut it. Besides budget issues, the filters often can become a breeding ground for dust mites, bacteria, and mold. These filters also do not sanitize nor kill bacteria and viruses.

Unlike passive systems, cluster ion technology removes particles from the air, disinfects surfaces, eliminates odors, mold, viruses, bacteria, and VOC’s. As an air purification system, it inactivates 90% of remaining pathogens in just one hour.

We breathe air into our bodies around 23,000 times per day. The peace of mind that comes with breathing clean air is often taken for granted. However, according to EPA, the air circulating inside our offices and facilities is close to 5 times more polluted than the air outside and is the causes of 50% of all illnesses.

Invite a FlexPAC Solution Provider to look at your facility to identify any potential IAQ problems. They will also look at all of your areas that could be affected and design economical solutions to keep your working environment safe while reducing absenteeism.

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