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Keep Your Workplace Safe and Air Healthy

by Toby Schoonover on November 03, 2020

Business Ventilation Systems: Coronavirus Safety Tips for Your Workplace

We’ve previously covered how you can focus on making sure your home is “Coronavirus safe” but - with many people now returning to work - we thought it would only be right to give you a little bit of help when it comes to making sure that your business is doing its thing when it comes to Coronavirus safety.

Let’s Talk Air

According to the United States Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Indoor Air Quality (or IAQ) “describes how inside air can affect a person's health, comfort, and ability to work”, and can include:

  • Temperature: how hot or cold it is. Exposure to extreme temperatures can have a detrimental impact on the health of those exposed to it.
  • Humidity: the concentration of water vapour present in the air. Because humid air is dense, it’s far more difficult to breathe in, hence causing issues for many people.
  • Mold: a fungus usually caused by water damage. Exposure to mold can cause allergic or respiratory problems.
  • Exposure to other chemicals. We’ve mentioned the impact of home cleaning products in a previous post, but the exposure to chemicals can be even more likely a workplace than it is at home – especially if you work in construction, manufacturing, industrial or scientific sectors.
  • Poor ventilation: lack of outside air being pushed into the building, whilst polluted air is pushed back out. The more polluted air there is inside a space, the higher the likelihood of breathing in airborne illnesses or other harmful air particles.

Now, whilst the OSHA gives guidance on what contributes to good and/or bad IAQ, there isn’t actually any overarching standards required to be met when it comes to the IAQ in businesses. There are standards in place relating to business ventilation and standards around some air contaminants, but nothing relating to IAQ as a whole.

Employers are required, however, to ensure that they are following the General Duty Clause of the OSHAct, which requires them (you!) 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 Act requires employers (you!) to adhere to occupational health and safety standards by being aware of possible detrimental factors to IAQ, as well as recognising and controlling workplace hazards as a whole.

So, we don’t mean to scare you or anything, but getting this stuff right is a pretty big deal.

Furthermore, this was super important before Coronavirus safety was part of boardroom conversations, but now that the big C-19 has taken over every aspect of our lives, it’s even more imperative that businesses across America get this right. And there’s more than one reason why now is the best time to review your current business ventilation set-up:

  • Healthy employees are happy employees. This is the time where workers get a chance to see how much their employers really care. Get your working conditions and safety procedures right now and the loyalty and dedication from your staff will be apparent for a long time to come.
  • Healthy employees means a smooth running business. It’s great that we’re all getting back to work, but there is still a chance that businesses will have to close again if staff members find themselves in the unfortunate position of contracting COVID-19. By increasing the ventilation in your office and other work spaces, you reduce the likelihood of any of your staff members being exposed to harmful air whilst at work, and therefore minimise the risk of disruption to your business in the event of staff absence due to illness.
  • We don’t know what the law looks like in the future. Whilst there aren’t loads of strict rules and regulations in place right now, with the current pandemic throwing us all into a panic, it wouldn’t be surprising if there was a review of workplace regulations surrounding IAQ. Getting your ventilation right now will only put you in a better position when it comes to adapting to any future changes.

One way to tackle business ventilation is by installing fans and/or other equipment. Particularly good for office buildings (or other non-specialist indoor spaces) are whole house fans, which work by drawing fresh, cool air through open windows and forcing hot, polluted air up to the attic and out through air vents mounted in the attic space.

“I’m confused. We’re talking about business ventilation and you’re telling me about a solution which literally has the word “house” in the name.”

Ah! So confusing, right? Luckily for you, we’re not crazy; whole house fans are a great solution for businesses as well as residential properties. And, when it comes to covering business ventilation in specific industries, we’ve also got this covered. You can check out sector-specific products - listed by industry - on our website. With industries including:

Good business ventilation is a key contributor to ensuring optimum Coronavirus safety in your workplace throughout 2020 and beyond. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can support in these ever-changing times.

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