Air Quality

Posted by Kahla Livelsberger in #YHSafetyTips, Sep 20, 2017

What is indoor air quality? Indoor air quality (IAQ) is how air effects someone’s health, comfort, and their ability to work. That includes the temperature, humidity, poor ventilation, mold, and exposure from chemicals.

Causes of IAQ problems?
There are many cause of IAQ problems, but the most common ones are:
-not enough ventilation
-lack of fresh air
-contaminated air
-poor upkeep of ventilation
-poor upkeep of heating and air conditioning
-moisture from leaking or humidity
-construction

How can you tell if there is a problem?
Usually people notice the IAQ is bad because of musty odors or if there isn’t enough air flow in the building. Sometimes coworkers will develop symptoms while they are working. For instance, they may start experiencing headaches or feel extremely tired. When their symptoms become worse, they could develop a fever, shortness of breath, or a cough.

Is there a test?
There is no test that you can do to check for a problem, although there are many things you can do to keep up with the IAQ:
-check temperatures regularly
-humidity
-air flow
-check the AC or heating units
-building walk through (check for mold and odors)
-fix all leaks in the building

How to prevent problems?
According to OSHA, “Employers are required to follow the General Duty Clause of the OSHAct, which requires them to provide workers with a safe workplace that does not have any known hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious injury. The OSHAct also requires employers to obey occupational safety and health standards created under it. Employers should be reasonably aware of the possible sources of poor air quality, and they should have the resources necessary to recognize and control workplace hazards. It is also their responsibility to inform employees of the immediate dangers that are present. Specific state and local regulations may apply.”

If you think there is a problem at your place of work you can ask you employer to check to see if there is anything to be concerned about.

Per OSHA, “Under the OSHAct, you have the right to contact an OSHA Office or to contact OSHA’s toll-free number: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or TTY 1-877-889-5627. Workers who would like a workplace inspection should send a written request. A worker can tell OSHA not to let their employer know who filed the complaint. It is against the Act for an employer to fire, demote, transfer or discriminate in any way against a worker for filing a complaint or using other OSHA rights.” For more detailed information on IAQ or what to you should do if you think your air at work is contaminated visit OSHA’s website here.

If you haven’t read last week’s post on Vehicle Emergency Items, read about it here.

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