- According to the EPA, poor indoor air quality can lead to productivity problems and increased absences among employees.
- A new survey from Honeywell shows office workers are concerned about the air quality at their workplace, and many are considering leaving if their employers don’t get serious about creating a healthier environment.
- 72% of office workers worldwide worry about air quality in their buildings.
The air quality within an office can have a significant impact on employees’ cognitive function, and it may also affect their productivity.
Several studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarded indoor air pollution as a major problem. While most commercial buildings don’t have severe issues, even the most well-maintained buildings can have episodes of poor indoor air.
According to the EPA, poor indoor air quality can lead to productivity problems and increased absences among employees. It’s estimated that these health consequences cost the government billions of dollars each year due to medical care and productivity loss.
A new survey from Honeywell shows office workers are concerned about the air quality at their workplace, and many are considering leaving if their employers don’t get serious about creating a healthier environment.
The findings show that surveyed employees in all regions worry about the impact of poor air quality on their well-being and want more information from their employers.
The survey revealed that 72% of office workers worldwide worry about air quality in their buildings. Nine out of 10 respondents want to be kept informed of their building’s air quality, yet only 15% receive regular updates.
An overwhelming majority (89%) of those surveyed agree that the quality of air they breathe has a direct impact on their health and well-being.
Nearly all (98%) believe safe IAQ (indoor air quality) provides at least one health benefit: better overall physical health (62%); fewer allergies, less sneezing and coughing (60%); less exposure to airborne contaminants (57%); better overall mental health (53%); and improved productivity and problem-solving (43%).
Doug Wright, president and CEO of Honeywell Building Technologies said, “In a competitive labor market, demonstrating an effort to create a healthier work environment can be an advantage in attracting and retaining employees. Every dollar invested in upgrading workplace air quality, monitoring IAQ data and communicating it to employees is a dollar strategically spent.”
More than six in 10 (62%) respondents said they’re ready to leave their job if their employer doesn’t take steps to create a healthier indoor environment.
Michael Zalle, Founder and CEO of YellowBird, a professional services gig economy marketplace that matches Environmental, Health and Safety workers with companies on-demand to help create safer workplaces, explained how workplaces can ensure a healthy office space.
Allwork.Space: How can workplaces ensure clean, healthy air?
Michael Zalle: Industrial Hygienists earn their certification by becoming a subject matter expert in 16 different specialties regarding potential workplace hazards. Hiring an Industrial Hygienist to complete air sampling on your building can ensure the proper exchanges of air per hour are occurring to ensure the cleanest air possible.
These professionals can also help your company with things like ergonomics, noise sampling, hazard communication, industrial processes, and more. If you’re looking for an industrial hygienist for a couple of hours or days, YellowBird is a great option to access these highly qualified professionals by the hour.
Allwork.Space: What safety policies does every office need in order to reduce turnover?
By providing your employees with consistent training and information, they’ll feel included in the team. Having a formal emergency response plan and team will show your employees you value their safety in an emergency. Should there be an incident, your team members know what their role is and where to go.
A reliable HR resource is crucial to your organization. This individual can maintain compliance, while also providing confidentiality as needed to allow your employees to provide feedback without fear of retribution.
HR can also keep track of employee certifications and remind employees when expirations are coming up. Invest in your employees by giving them the time and funding necessary to get new certifications or renew ones about to expire. This shows you care about their career and personal growth and in the long run will help with retention rates and recruiting.
Allwork.Space: What are the top safety OSHA violations to avoid?
The best way to keep tabs on what OSHA is going to be looking at is by reviewing the previous year’s Top 10 Violations list. In 2021, these included:
- Fall Protection (General)
- Hazard Communication
- Respiratory Protection
- Powered Industrial Trucks
- Fall Protection – Training Requirements
- Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection
- Machine Guarding
Here’s how companies can keep workplace air quality at a healthy level:
Keep the workplace clean. A clean workplace has lower levels of mold, dust, allergens, and contaminants that could spread through the air. Consider using eco-friendly cleaning products that do not release harsh chemical compounds into the air.
Use air-cleaning devices. Having commercial-grade equipment – such as air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers are a great way to keep your IAQ at good levels and prevent the need to hire professionals.
Change HVAC filters regularly. Be sure to change the filters from time to time to prevent dust and other air pollutants from circulating back to your indoor air. Clogged filters can interrupt airflow and speed up the build-up of pollutants in enclosed spaces.
Observe proper ventilation. Whenever possible, turn off your HVAC system and open the windows to allow outdoor air to enter the building. Indoor plants are also a great addition to your office; they improve indoor air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the air.
Conduct regular air tests. Performing indoor air testing will provide you with the right information and insights to make your IAQ improvement plan more directed and efficient. Air quality tests include checking humidity levels, airflow, ventilation, mold growth, odors, and water damage, according to Corporate Wellness Magazine.
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