According to the World Health Organization, around 30 percent of all new or renovated buildings have poor indoor air quality. In fact, the air we breathe inside the building we inhabit is often several times more polluted than the outside air. Issues with mold and mildew, the buildup of potentially toxic and even cancer-causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other air contaminants all contribute to the poor quality of the air we breathe inside the buildings where we work.
When designing or renovating a workplace environment, making an effort to choose only low or no-VOC products is one way to quickly improve your indoor air quality. The last thing you want is for your workers to be suffering from headaches due to the chemicals floating in the air. Proper ventilation, however, is another strategy that is fundamental in ensuring that your workplace has healthy indoor air. Properly ventilated workplaces allow fresh air to replace the stagnant air that builds up inside.
By improving circulation, proper ventilation can remove even the finest particulate matter. Good ventilation can also ensure that allergens and pollutants do not accumulate inside your workplace. All of these benefits of proper ventilation in the workplace can help to increase the wellbeing and thereby productivity levels of your employees.
In this short article, we offer a few suggestions on how to properly ventilate your workplace. We also look at the OSHA ventilation standards for the Covid-19 pandemic.
How to Properly Ventilate Your Workplace
There are several simple strategies that can allow business owners to ensure that their workplace is properly ventilated, including:
- Natural Ventilation: Natural ventilation uses natural forces to drive outdoor air through specific building envelope openings. The most obvious of these openings are windows. Consider encouraging your employees to open up windows during mild spring and fall weather to let the fresh air in. Also, solar chimneys, wind towers, and trickle ventilators are all solutions to encourage natural ventilation while minimizing the impact on the energy efficiency of your building.
- Mechanical Ventilation: No business owner wants to be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on heating and cooling bills each month. Leaving the windows open might give your employees a bit of fresh air, but it will also cost you during the hotter summer months and cooler winter months. Mechanical ventilators like HRVs and ERVs are great solutions that provide fresh outside air while not compromising the thermal performance of your building.
- Add a Dehumidifier and/or Air Purifier: Though these devices don’t exactly add ventilation to your workplace, they can quickly improve the indoor air quality inside your business. A dehumidifier will reduce the likelihood of mold growth inside your business while an air purifier actively removes allergens, VOCs, and other indoor air contaminants.
The Importance of Ventilation in Times of COVID
Proper ventilation can also play an important role in reducing the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission amongst your employees. The CDC recommends “taking steps to improve ventilation in the building, in consultation with an HVAC professional, based on local environmental conditions (temperature/humidity) and ongoing community transmission in the area.” Furthermore, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration finds that proper ventilation can reduce employee risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
Specifically, OSHA recommends consulting with an HVAC professional and building management to maintain relative humidity between 40 and 60 percent. Changing air filters should be done only by workers wearing appropriate personal protective equipment including N95 respirators, eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, or face shields), and disposable gloves. It is also important to ensure that all exhaust fans in the building are fully functional and operating at maximum capacity.
Breathe Easy With Work-Fit
If your company needs help in developing a proper ventilation strategy for your workplace, Work-Fit is a nationwide leader in onsite injury prevention and management for your workforce. We can help your company find the best ways to ensure that your employees are enjoying optimum indoor air quality. We also can ensure that your business is in compliance with all industrial air standards, including ventilation recommendations for COVID-19 prevention.
Our injury prevention program can help your company put in place a preventive care model that reduces the possibility of illnesses associated with poor indoor air quality. If you are interested in improving your company's indoor air quality via improved ventilation strategies, contact Work-Fit today to learn about how we can help your team!