Keeping Work Safe with a Floor Fan
According to OSHA the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, ventilation and air quality are prime concerns. Not all states have indoor air regulation, however, California, New Jersey and Washington all have mandated indoor air quality requirements that must be met. Indoor air quality, or IAQ, is directly tied to health concerns and symptoms like headaches, eye/nose/throat/lung irritation, asthma and fatigue. Poor ventilation, lack of temperature control, variable humidity and other issues can all affect IAQ.
Typically, indoor air pollutants come from a number of sources. Depending on your workplace activities such as welding, brazing and cutting produce many materials that are hazardous to your health. There are also some contaminants that are not limited to just industrial settings.
For normal offices and workplace pollutants there are multiple sources that produce contaminants. Usually just minor irritants, together and over time they can amass to become serious health concerns.
Source: Polluted outdoor air.
Contaminants: Pollen, dust, mold, spores, industrial emissions, vehicle and non-road engine emissions.
Source: Nearby sources such as loading docks or adjacent buildings.
Contaminants: odors from dumpsters, unsanitary debris and building exhausts near intakes
Source: Underground sources
Contaminants: radon, pesticides, leakage from underground storage tanks
Nearby building equipment pose a different set of complications. Improved weather-stripping and filtering incoming air can help. The primary concern is that neighboring businesses and buildings can remove hazardous materials from their structure but they can just as easily enter an abutting property.
Source: HVAC equipment that is poorly maintained can distribute contaminants.
Contaminants: Mold growth in drip pans, coils and humidifiers, improper venting of combustion products, dust or debris in ductwork
Source: Non-HVAC equipment
Contaminants: Emissions from office equipment VOCs, ozone, emissions from shop, lab, cleaning equipment
Other workplace components, equipment and furnishings can output contaminants due to things like paint and processes used in their construction. These can include volatile organic compounds like paints and lacquers that off gas and introduce hazardous fumes or cleaning solvents that behave in much the same way.
Contaminants: Mold growth on or in soiled or water-damaged materials, dry drain traps that allow the passage of sewer gas, materials containing VOCs, inorganic compounds, or damaged asbestos, materials that produce particles (dust)
Source: Other Potential Indoor Sources
Contaminants: Science laboratory supplies, vocational art supplies, copy/print areas, food prep areas, smoking lounges, cleaning materials, emissions from trash, pesticides, dry-erase markers and similar pens, insects and other pests, odors and VOCs from paint, chalk, adhesives
To improve IAQ consider the following ideas
- Keep your work areas clean by vacuuming and removing dust and debris from surfaces.
- Insure proper insulation and weather stripping to prevent outside contaminants from entering the building.
- Maintain an average level of humidity between 30-50%.
- Reduce clutter. Cluttered areas provide nooks and crannies for dust and particles to accumulate. When disturbed, they will disburse those substances into the air.
- Sufficiently ventilate your areas. A floor fan, HVAC system or air purifier will greatly improve air flow.
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