How poor air quality can affect health
Poor air quality can contribute to many health problems, as well as the comfort and general wellbeing of employees.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted how effective ventilation in the workplace can significantly reduce the spread of airborne viruses. For COVID-19, effective ventilation reduces how much virus is in the air and, therefore, the risk of aerosol transmission.
Additionally, excess humidity, due to poor ventilation, can cause damp and mould. Sensitivity to moulds can cause coughing and nasal and throat irritation.
Those who have increased exposure to mould, in the home or workplace, may show more severe flu or pneumonia-like symptoms such as persistent exhaustion, frequent coughing, headaches, fever, or difficulty in breathing.
Indoor air pollutants such as dust mites, mould, and other particle matter, are also known to be major triggers of asthma.
Generally, lack of fresh air in the workplace is also believed to be associated with discomfort, loss in productivity, fatigue, headaches, and itchy eyes and skin; symptoms sometimes collectively known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).
What are the legal requirements for ventilation in the workplace?
In order to ensure a healthy and comfortable working environment for employees, there are a number of legal requirements for employers, relating to ventilation.
As before the pandemic, UK legislation requires that employers ensure that all enclosed areas of the workplace are sufficiently ventilated with an adequate supply of fresh or purified air.
Where this is achieved using mechanical ventilation (fans and ducts bringing fresh air in from the outside), employers are also required to keep these mechanical ventilation systems appropriately maintained, by carrying out regular assessments and any necessary cleaning or repairs to keep them in efficient working order.
The Government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on how employers can identify poorly ventilated workspaces, including the use of CO2 monitors. It also explains steps employers can take to improve ventilation in these spaces.
Visit hse.gov.uk/legislation to find health and safety legislation (laws in the workplace) relevant to your industry.
Effective ventilation from Kool It Services
At Kool It Services, we offer specialist assessments and thorough maintenance checks on all types of ventilation and air conditioning systems, to ensure that they comply with the relevant regulations and remain in efficient working order.
For information about our bespoke ventilation and extraction solutions for offices, retail, leisure, and hospitality, please visit Commercial Ventilation & Extraction.
For updated UK workplace legislation, or updated advice and information on ventilation and air conditioning during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit legislation.gov.uk and the Government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.
You can also find further detailed information in the following Building Engineering Services Association documents: