You may think of safety in the workplace in terms of things like quality equipment, clean floors, or appropriate signage. But another critical component is indoor environmental quality and controlling pollution levels, often collectively referred to as air quality.
Air quality relates to how inside air can affect and employee’s ability to work along with their comfort and health. Good air quality, according to OSHA, “Should include comfortable temperature and humidity, adequate supply of fresh outdoor air, and control of pollutants from inside and outside of the building.”
Just as employees can suffer a visible, physical injury at work, they can also suffer illnesses from poor air quality, pollution, and/or exposure to irritants in the environment. Employees can also display reduced productivity as a result of poor air quality and exposure to chemicals and other hazardous pollutants.
Employees and managers should be on the lookout for symptoms that follow a pattern:
● Physical indications that present only at work and subside when the employee goes home. ● Indications that surface only at certain times of the day. ● Symptoms that are new or coincide with a new project at work. ● Issues such as fatigue, trouble concentrating, headaches, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. ● Other workers who share similar indications.
As always, supervisors are encouraged to maintain an open dialog and report any potential incidents to their managers. Proactive steps will help to correct any developing issues.
Of course the best way to avoid indoor air pollution is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. There are steps that not only the company should take, but also employees should take in addressing issues at the moment.
• Clean up spills and report leaks appropriately. • Educate yourself on any hazards associated with materials used on the job. • Alert your supervisor should you suspect any issues. • Ensure air vents are open and free from any blockages; conduct regular maintenance. • Wear appropriate protective gear as required; this includes respirators, gloves, goggles, face shields, and any other equipment provided.
Pollution and indoor air quality issues can happen suddenly (as in the case of an accident) or over time (as with issues left unaddressed). Be sure to stay on top of not only the equipment in your facility but also the air quality and pollution levels throughout the company. It is much easier to prevent an issue than face workers’ compensation claims having to do with a poor environment.
Companies can also support employee health by encouraging workers to quit smoking, to maintain a workout regimen, and to get educated regarding the risks associated with specific jobs and tasks.
Review your workers’ compensation coverage with a specialist to ensure your policy appropriately addresses pollution. We can support you in determining the appropriate amount of workers compensation coverage as well as processes in the workplace. Contact us today!