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How to Keep Your Workplace Well Ventilated

08 November 2022

Workplace ventilation has been a hot topic in recent years, as the value of proper ventilation has become more widely recognized. The need for bio-control, through purifying and circulating fresh air, is now understood to be important not just for productivity but for occupational safety and health. However, turning this knowledge into practical applications is not always easy. Budgetary constraints may slow down implementation, leaving employees at risk in the meantime. This is why it is important for employers to be aware of the risks and take action to protect their employees' health and safety.

Poorly ventilated workplaces can lead to a variety of health problems for employees, including respiratory infections, headaches, and fatigue. In some cases, these health problems can lead to long-term absences from work, which can be costly for businesses in terms of lost productivity. Moreover, poor ventilation can also create a fire hazard. In short, proper ventilation is essential for the safety and health of employees and should not be viewed as an optional expense.

Fortunately, we've run the miles on how to keep your workplace well ventilated, so you don't have to! This article offers a neat and concise guide to everything you need to start. But, first, let's clear the air with some

essential factoids.



What is Proper Ventilation?

Put simply, it refers to the process of moving air into and out of a space. This might be done using windows, doors, vents, fans, or a combination of these things.

Proper ventilation is critical for many reasons, most notably indoor air quality. By circulating fresh air throughout a space, proper ventilation helps to remove contaminants like mold, dust, and pollen. In addition, proper ventilation can help to regulate temperature and humidity levels, reducing the need for artificial heating and cooling. Not only is proper ventilation important for the health and well-being of employees, but it can also help to reduce energy bills. When done correctly, ventilation can take advantage of natural lighting and heating, resulting in significant cost savings.

That simple definition undoubtedly shows why ventilation is a topic no decent employer can afford to ignore.


What is the Link Between Poor Ventilation and SBS (Sick Building Syndrome)?

Like all things man-made, buildings are subject to age, wear and tear. The signs of SBS typically present as a rise or sustained number of health complaints in a section of or in your entire building. It's likely due to the degradation of your building and support infrastructure like lighting, plumbing, sound, and heat insulation.

Poor ventilation increases the exposure of employees to humidity, CO2 poisoning, and airborne particles. This often leads to occupation, comfort, and health challenges. And more reports of sick-offs due to IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) symptoms and diseases.

The telltale signs include:

  • Lethargy (a lack of engagement or concentration)
  • Whizzing, coughing, and other allergic reactions
  • Increased rates of occupation stress
  • Headaches and nausea
  • Rashes and skin lesions
  • Thirst, dry skin, and dehydration (in the case of low humidity)

It's evident that sweating and making a b-line for the water cooler isn't the only issue with poor IAQ. This Study highlights that 40% of US workers report such symptoms. Therefore, we can't stress enough how addressing SBS can give you a way out!

Now, let's look at some hands-on fixes that may cure this symptom.

Clear Out the Mold

Mold spores are tiny enough to spread everywhere. They are harmless in small concentrations. However, a massive infestation can cause respiratory issues and degrade the quality of office furniture. The only way to stay ahead of this menace is with routine inspections.

Then you can eradicate a colony by applying mold removal agents. It may also be wise to repair water leaks that feed the mold. This opens the possibility of having fresh air if you include the other pointers in this article.



Use Cross-Ventilation

Cross-ventilation is the process of moving air through a room or building by creating an opening on one side to allow fresh air to enter and another opening on the opposite side to allow stale air to escape. There should also be a clear path for the air to travel.


Cross-ventilation works by situating workstations in areas where air corridors intersect. Then, you can allocate the storage space to unventilated places. Cross-ventilation is an especially effective way to ventilate large spaces, such as warehouses or manufacturing facilities.


Open the windows.

Sometimes, the best solutions are the ones staring right at you! Cracking open your office and shutters introduces loads of fresh air. It also allows the workplace to vent out all the humidity, dust, pollen, and other airborne contaminants.

However, working in an industrialized neighborhood may turn this into an impossibility. Or if you're next to a busy road intersection. The outdoor air may be more contaminated, so it's unwise to let it inside.

Alternatively, you can purchase a desktop air purifier, which will help to filter the air inside your office without the need to open the windows frequently.


Eradicate Air Contaminants in the Workplace

You can have a well-ventilated workplace but still get reports of allergic reactions and sickness. So, it's also essential to ensure there are no triggers in the indoor environment. Otherwise, you'll circulate them, and even your office visitors can feel the sting.

Some ways you can eliminate air contaminants in the workplace include:

  1. Switching to pollen-free potted plants like ferns that don't produce flowers
  2. Actively discouraging employees from wearing strong body sprays, perfumes, and scents
  3. Using acrylic-based paint instead of enamel, which can be toxic
  4. Effective and proactive pest control
  5. Banning smoking and vaping within the workplace

Routine Inspection and Clearance of Air Ducts

Air ducts are a hidden and often-ignored part of your building's core infrastructure. They hide vermin, dust, and other air pollutants. The dirtier they get, the more vile agents circulate through your workspace.

Routine air duct inspections can help identify issues and corrective measures. However, inspecting office furniture is the best way to tell if they are due for a cleaning. If you notice significant traces of lint and dust, then your air ducts are due for some detailing.

Invest in Dual Cooling and Ventilation Systems

Is your HVAC system ineffective? Then you can get a portable dual cooling system to improve air quality. You can even integrate them into your existing infrastructure. Below are some modern features to consider in the ideal solution:

Air pre-treatment – This feature purifies outdoor air of contaminants, which allows you to circulate clean and fresh air through the office. While you're at it, you can adjust the temperature to the optimal level.

Air renewal – Such a system cools indoor air with a blast of cooler outdoor air, saving energy costs.

Integrated CO2 Sensor - These monitor CO2 levels in your workplace, making automatic adjustments to ensure your air remains breathable.

Getting such upgrades is only the start. The rest lies in providing frequent maintenance to ensure optimal performance.


Use Your Thermostat Settings

Your thermostat may sometimes regulate how much cool or warm air the HVAC system fans into your workplace. So, setting it to circulate mode ensures a constant fresh air flow. It does so by running the fans every 20 – 30 minutes. You can also set some to run at low RPMs throughout the day.

This setting ensures you also vent contaminated air out of the office, thereby making it less stuffy and conducive to productive activities.



Get a Dehumidifier

Is your office located in a coastal or lakeside environment? Then you probably grapple with high levels of humidity. Sometimes opening the windows makes it stuffier inside .

Installing a dehumidifier allows you to extract the water from the air while cooling it. This makes the atmosphere lighter and easier to inhale. It can also eliminate musty odors, mildew, and other air contaminants that cause allergic reactions in employees.


Indoor Potted Plants

Indoor plants can make even the drabbest office cozier. The infusion of green has a calming effect. It gives workers something natural to stare at when resting their eyes, which is a welcome relief from all the office furniture and equipment.

But that's not all. Plants consume carbon in carbon dioxide and churn out oxygen, thereby acting as natural CO2 scrubbers. Some species, like spider plants, can also remove ammonium and other toxins from the air.

Best of all, potted plants are the cheapest measure on this list.


Maintain Clean Office Surface

Your workmates track dust, lint, fur, and other contaminants in the office. The problem is they come in microscopic qualities that build up over time. They build up over time and clog ventilation ducts and other ventilation systems.

What's the result? Your HVAC system works overtime due to such blockages increasing your energy bill. You also inadvertently circulate contaminated air through the workplace. Therefore, cleaning your floors, ergonomic standing desks, carpets, and other surfaces prevents such eventualities.

Insist on checking the top and bottom of your working area–you may be surprised at how much dust and lint hide in there!


Conclusion

Ensuring proper workplace ventilation is challenging. But, as you can see from these tips, it's by no means impossible. All you need is to know where to start. We hope this brief guideline gets the ball rolling and you won't shelve such well-meaning initiatives.