It is not uncommon for people to take measures to improve the indoor air quality of their homes while overlooking the importance of the air they breathe while at work. When you take into consideration that you spend as much or even more time at work than you do at home, improving the quality of the air at your office or place of employment should be a priority.
Whether you are a tenant at an office building, a business manager, or a simple employee, here are a few simple tips to ensure you’re breathing clean healthy air while on the job.
The Cost of Office Air Quality Problems
There are many contributing factors to poor office air quality. Leaky plumbing or high indoor humidity levels can cause mold growth. Dirt and dust particles can also reduce air quality, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) due to off-gassing from office furniture, paint, or building materials.
Poor air quality can result in Sick Building Syndrome which can affect employee productivity and health. Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome include:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Itchy skin or rashes
- Difficulty concentration
Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome appear or become more pronounced when at work.
Improving Air Quality at Work
Improving the work air quality is the responsibility of all the occupants of the building. If everyone takes responsibility and implements good air quality management practices, the office will be a healthier and more productive place to work. With a few inexpensive changes and some common sense, most office air quality problems can be easily prevented or fixed.
Steps for Building Occupants
- Keep air vents clear. Be aware of return and supply air vents and their locations. Do not obstruct airflow vents with furniture, boxes, or other obstacles.
- Observe designated smoking areas. By complying with your building’s smoking policy, you can help keep the air clean for everyone.
- Be cautious with water usage. Excess water and moisture can promote mold growth. Be sure to promptly clean spills, avoid overwater plants, and report any leaks to building maintenance immediately.
- Get rid of garbage. Garbage doesn’t only smell bad, it also attracts pests. Be sure to empty office trash cans regularly.
- Speak up. If you suspect an air quality problem, especially if your work space is making you feel sick, make your building manager aware of the situation immediately.
Steps for Office Managers
- Position office equipment and furniture with air quality in mind. Furniture, partitions, machines, and other office equipment should never block air vents, thermostats, or air purification features of your HVAC system.
- Avoid sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Choose office equipment like fax machines, printers, and furnishings carefully. Many of these products can emit chemical pollutants that cause Sick Building Syndrome. Also, be mindful when selecting office furniture, cleaners, paint, and building materials.
- Use non-chemical pest control. Pest control is important since an unchecked problem can cause damage to the building and office equipment. Whenever possible, choose the least hazardous method of pest control available.
- Schedule routine HVAC maintenance. Change filters regularly. Then hire a professionally licensed HVAC technician to perform regular preventive maintenance. This will keep your system working efficiently and effectively.
- Minimize pollution during renovation projects. During renovation, make sure work areas are sealed to prevent dust and debris from affecting occupied sections of office space.
If any of your employees exhibit symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome, you should put the above steps into action. Also, consider introducing an air purifier into the office space for improved indoor air quality. The Austin Air HealthMate Plus is designed to specifically absorb and filter VOCs and many other pollutants that contribute to Sick Building Syndrome.