With reports stating that 72% of office workers are worried over workplace air, and the continuing presence of Covid-19 in the community, it’s no wonder organisations are striving to improve indoor air quality in the workplace.
How they do it will depend on the size, location and function of the building: whether it’s a modern office block or hospital that requires a high-grade ventilation system, or a small workplace or shop where simply opening a window will reduce the risk of viral transmission.
What’s just as important is how employers measure, monitor and mitigate against poor air quality risks, ensuring consistently clean air within their workplaces, and ensuring appropriate measures are in place to protect staff health and wellbeing.
Five factors that impact air quality indoors
But before we look at what companies can do to improve air quality in the workplace, let’s take a look at the five main factors that impact air quality indoors. Some may seem obvious, but studies show that only two in five, or 20% of employees can correctly name all five!
The five main contributing factors are:
- Elevated CO2 levels indicate poor ventilation and consequently high viral transmissibility.
- High CO2 levels can also cause building occupants to feel drowsy and impact productivity.
Particulate Matter – PM 2.5
- These tiny particles in the air can damage the respiratory system, causing illness and absenteeism.
- The WHO in 2018 reported a link between high levels of PM 2.5 and lung cancer.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)
- Toxic Volatile Organic Compounds are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids.
- Buildings can experience a spike in VOCs after refurbishment or other activity.
- Can make building occupants feel uncomfortable and impact productivity.
- Humidity has also been linked to viral transmission, and the growth of mould and fungi in buildings.
- Can be a source of tension among building occupants.
- High or low temperatures can indicate energy waste resulting from poor heating control.
Five steps you can take to improve the quality of the air in buildings
Now that we know a little about factors contributing to indoor air quality, let’s examine some steps we can take to improve it.
- Take measures to enhance the ventilation in your office. This is the number one way to improve air quality in your workplace. Whatever system best suits your building, the goal should be to reduce CO2 and PM 2.5 levels throughout it. This will reduce viral transmissibility, improve productivity and lead to general staff wellbeing.
- Workplace optimisation can help you ensure you’re bringing the right number of people into the right space. This will naturally balance air quality factors like CO2 and room temperature, ensuring a more comfortable environment for all.
- When renovating your workplace, choose paints, carpets and furniture that are low in Volatile Organic Compounds. Many brands which sell products containing VOCs today will indicate whether levels are high, medium or low – a little like the salt levels on your favourite pack of crisps!
- There is a whole range of products out there to help manage humidity levels in the workplace. Naturally humidifiers are more popular in warmer climates than Ireland’s, but they are becoming more popular in the workplace as awareness of humidity’s impact on workplace wellbeing grows.
Whichever steps you’re investigating to improve the quality of indoor air at work, the tech is here to help ensure that your actions last.
Discrete, smart sensors and intelligent reporting
ZiggyTec’s smart sensors monitor the quality of air in workplaces, measuring these five key parameters and helping you to keep them at a safe level.
Following an assessment of the workplace’s floor plans, the discrete, high-quality and fully certified sensors are placed in optimum locations, and the data is sent to the cloud via Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
The long-life batteries which power the sensors typically need to be replaced once every five years. The IoT network which delivers the data to cloud is kept entirely separate from the building’s network.
We cover installation – including sensor and communications costs – and clients pay a simple, cost-effective monthly subscription charge. There is little or no impact on the business during the installation process, which typically takes less than a day.
Reports are accessible within 24 hours and ongoing access to our dedicated client support team is provided to all clients.
ZiggyTec’s tailored reports provide clients with a range of benefits, which help keep employees safe but also help clients achieve sustainability goals.
One additional benefit to the insights delivered by the reports, is the optimisation of ventilation systems, heating systems and cooling systems.
By using data to understand when and how these costly systems are best utilised, companies can ensure they are active only when needed, saving costs and reducing carbon emissions.
So, there are many reasons why companies are adding indoor air quality monitoring services to their wellness and sustainability programmes.
If you’d like to find out more, get in touch today!