When you think of safe work environments, you automatically think of accident prevention. Many workers’ compensation claims are filed as a result of some obvious physical injury resulting from a one time only accident. A slip or fall or some other incident which is very easy to identify. There are however workplace hazards that threaten the health of workers which remain unseen and therefore all the more dangerous.
Indoor air quality plays a huge role in the overall safety and health of workers. There are many sources of poor air quality indoors. When combined with inefficient ventilation, workers may find themselves suffering from short term and in some cases, long term health problems as the result.
Some of the “contaminants” of indoor air quality include; office equipment, new furnishing, maintenance and custodial work and biological agents. Basically almost every product or activity in the workplace has the potential to pollute the air. Bacteria, funji, pollen, chemicals used in cleaning and materials used in renovations are all potential contaminants. Treatment for insects and other pests are a common source of poor air quality. Even the equipment you use may be a potential hazard in that ozone and other dangerous substances are released into the air when copy machines and other office equipment are in use.
Add to this, certain irritants such as cigarette smoke or heavy perfume and cologne and the air your breath at work can quickly become the source of many issues. Few workplace environments have a ventilation system to truly handle all of these issues. To determine if your job is making you sick, track when your symptoms appear and the severity of symptoms. For example, if you get a headache within an hour of arriving at work which goes away an hour after you leave…it might not be job stress making your ill, but rather the air you breath. Other symptoms may include red, irritated, and itchy eyes or skin. In some cases, you find it difficult to breath, coughing or sneezing may be an issue. Any of these symptoms which occur primarily at work, may be caused by poor indoor air quality.