Most employees spend 40 hours per week in an indoor workplace — nearly as much time as they spend at home. Facility managers have no small job caring for all aspects of a workplace, including intangibles like indoor air quality (IAQ). Since you can’t see the air around you, it can be tough to determine whether the air is potentially hazardous. Here are four signs your workplace IAQ is harmful.
1. Sick employees
Frequent employee illness is one of the first signs of poor workplace IAQ. Harmful IAQ can sometimes affect a person’s respiratory system, triggering allergies or asthma. More common, however, are symptoms that aren’t directly traceable to a source, such as fatigue, headaches and dry skin. These symptoms could be anomalies, but if they are happening frequently it could be time to further investigate your IAQ.
2. Uneven air distribution
Does your workplace have some areas that are cooler than others? If there is an uneven air distribution, there’s probably disruption in the system, causing a lack of air flow and compromising the air quality. Even if your air isn’t polluted, it’s possible you may not be getting enough fresh air. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard for Commercial Ventilation Rate mandates 20 cubic feet of fresh air per minute for every person in office spaces. Anything less than 20 cubic feet could cause your workplace air to re-circulate the same harmful particles and make you feel like you’re in a small airplane.
3. Strong odors
If you smell a strong odor when you walk into your workplace, it’s likely there are some harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) caught in the facility. Chemicals that emit strong VOCs can linger in the air, especially if there is no proper ventilation, or get trapped in carpet that isn’t being properly cleaned. Long-term exposure to VOCs can be detrimental to your health and can certainly affect a facility’s IAQ.
Are co-workers contributing to a damaging work environment by leaving out dirty dishes or failing to empty their garbage? The presence of moisture and dirt can cause mold and other biological contaminants to thrive. Although you’re unable to see the air around you, you can see circumstances that may be affecting the air. Large amounts of dust or the presence of mold or mildew is a good indication of substandard IAQ and must be quickly addressed.
Poor IAQ should be a serious concern for facility managers, due to the damaging effects it can have on employees’ health. Contact us for more information on how to maintain a healthy IAQ in your facility.