Controlling Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is important to short and long term health. Did you know that OSHA has housekeeping standards that offices are required to meet? This government agency had several complaints last year from office workers.
Most IAQ complaints claimed high levels of mold in their offices. But in reality less than 5% where related to mold. Dust was the main cause for symptoms of poor IAQ.
Dust, commonly referred to as “house dust” is produced indoors from many sources. There is the breakdown and release of plant and animal materials such as paper, cotton and wool fiber. There are disintegrated synthetic materials from upholstered furniture, stuffing materials, and carpet fibers. Human skin scales, dust mites, cobwebs, insect parts, mold spores, the dirt we track indoors off our shoes, outside dusts, and pollens carried in through windows are all elements of indoor dust. Years of this accumulation becomes actual contamination. Complaints include headaches, dry eyes, sore throats, and lung irritations. These chronic health conditions can lead to lowered immunity and inability to fight infections.
Heavy and sometimes gross contamination of dust in the workplace is due to a lack of good housekeeping and custodial practices.
Is your office guilty of any of these?
- Lack of a routine cleaning and maintenance regime using check lists, and ineffective periodic/seasonal cleaning.
- Office culture: personnel assume a right to privacy and do not want their personal work spaces disturbed, or custodians are insecure about encroaching into a personal workspace.
- Downsizing and/or cost saving budget reductions in custodial services means the cleaning is not getting done.
- Employee resistance or reluctance to clean their own work spaces; “it’s not my job.”
- Cluttered workspaces, surfaces obstructed, cluttered with personal items.
These three things can be done to improve your work spaces:
1. Implement higher standards with custodial personnel.
2. Allow time and direct staff to clean and maintain their immediate work areas; especially areas outside the scope and access of custodians.
3. Add an indoor air purifier to your office. Prices range from $150 to $800. Go to www.air-purifier-ratings.org for more information.
It will pay-off with improved IAQ which will mean less health related issues from the accumulation of dust.
by Fred McGuire