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Control these five pollutants before they become a threat to office ventilation

by , 28 June 2013
Are your employees experiencing headaches, dizziness, sinus congestion, itchy or watery eyes, scratchy throats and an inability to concentrate at work? Poor ventilation in your office can be the source of all these symptoms. Here are the five major pollutants that may be affecting ventilation in your workplace.

Poor ventilation is a hazard.

And like all hazards, it poses a risk to your employees' health so you must seek ways eliminate or control this hazard.

If you don't, it'll slow down productivity in your workplace and result in increased sick leave.

That's why you must ventilate your workplace by either natural (wind), or mechanical (aircon, fans) means. 'Failure to comply with this regulation can lead to a fine of R1 000 or imprisonment of up to six months,' says the Health and Safety Advisor.

So make sure you eliminate these common pollutants before they affect ventilation in your workplace.
Are you aware of the five pollutants that can affect ventilation in your workplace?

According to the Health and Safety Advisor, there are many pollutants and sources of pollutants in a building that can increase the risk of illness. These include:

#1: Carbon dioxide (C02) is one of the most common by-products of living organisms. With every exhaled breath, we produce and release C02 into the atmosphere.

In a work environment, a lot of people work together and release C02. To manage these levels, you need to implement mechanical air ventilation systems to remove C02.from the office and introduce fresh air.

#2: Tobacco smoke. Second hand smoke is a complex mixture of gases and particles that contain as many as 4800 chemicals including formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, nicotine, carcinogenic tars and others.

What smoking employees don't realise is that when they walk into the office after having a smoke, they carry with them the second-hand smoke chemicals. This affects employees who don't smoke.

Employees breathing in this second-hand smoke are more likely to develop allergies, asthma and bronchitis.

#3: Colds and Flu. Employees who suffer from colds and flu spread germs when there's insufficient or inadequate ventilation, making co-workers sick.

Proper ventilation will reduce the chances of more employees getting sick.

#4: Cleaning products. Some chemicals leave odours in the workplace that can be harmful to your employees. Chemicals such as bleach, drain and toilet cleaners are examples of these harmful products.

#5: Dust. Some industries such as mines, construction sites, carpentry and textiles create more dust than any other industries. Dust is simply small particles in the air. Often these particles are too small to be seen.

But, because they're airborne, they can be breathed in through the nose and mouth. Where there's a high level of dust in the air you need to take action to reduce the risks involved.

Use control measures such as cleaning regularly. For instance you can:

  • Dust furniture, light fittings, shelves and equipment using a cloth duster (don't use feather dusters, they just move the dust around).
  • Wipe furniture down with a damp cloth and an antiseptic anti-dust detergent.

Knowing the major pollutants that can affect ventilation in your workplace will help you take measures to put them under control before they become a health and safety risk to your employees.

Turn to chapter V02 of your Health and Safety Advisor to find out the nine ways poor ventilation will affect your employees


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