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Posted by on in Industrial Hygiene Consulting

Since the energy crisis of the mid-1970s, indoor air quality (IAQ) has become a common discussion point when it comes to keeping workplaces safe and healthy for their employees. In a past blog, we discussed the main sources of IAQ in the workplace, including building location, inadequate ventilation and hazardous material. OSHA also identifies these key attributes that lead to IAQ complaints:

• Improperly operated and maintained heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems
• Overcrowding
• Radon
• Moisture incursion and dampness
• Presence of outside air pollutants
• Presence of internally generated contaminates

Here are some typical Frequently Asked Questions concerning IAQ according to OSHA:

1. What is “Indoor Air Quality”?
Indoor air quality, also called indoor environmental quality, describes how the inside air can affect a person’s health, comfort and ability to work. It can include temperature, humidity, poor ventilation (lack of outside air), mold or exposure to other chemicals.

2. What are the most common causes of IAQ problems?
The most common causes are not enough ventilation, which includes not allowing enough fresh outdoor air to come in or contaminated air being brought into the building; poor upkeep of ventilation and HVAC systems; dampness and moisture due to water damage or high humidity; construction or remodeling; and indoor and outdoor contaminated air.

3. How can I tell if there is an IAQ issue at my workplace?
Do you notice your own symptoms, such as headaches and sinus issues, when you are at work, but they clear up after you leave the building? This could be a sign that the air contains contaminants. A couple other signs include unpleasant or musty odors, or the building is hot and stuffy.

4. Is there a test that can find an IAQ problem?
Even though there are specific tests for asbestos and radon, the majority of IAQ issues requires more measurements being checked, including temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide concentrations and air flow, as well as inspections and testing of the ventilation and HVAC systems. It’s also a good idea to do a building walk-through to check for odors and look for leaks and water damage.

5. What should I do if I think there is an IAQ problem at work?
Ask your employer to check the ventilation, HVAC systems and to make sure there is no water damage. Even though OSHA does not have specific IAQ standards, under the Act, it is your employer’s responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace that does not have any known hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious injury. You also have the right to contact OSHA and request a workplace inspection.

The importance of the air we breathe is many times taken for granted. Indoor air quality (IAQ) is essential in the workplace, and if air quality is poor, the health and productivity of your employees will most likely decrease.

A Harvard School of Public Health study in 2015 discovered that people who work in well-ventilated offices have significantly higher cognitive function scores when responding to a crisis or developing a strategy. Those working in “green” conditions, which included enhanced ventilation and conditions with increased levels of CO2 had, on average, double the cognitive function scores of those participants who worked in conventional environments.

Reduced cognitive functioning abilities aren’t the only issue when IAQ is poor. Poor air quality in the workplace also causes such symptoms as allergic reactions, physical fatigue, headaches and eye and throat irritation. These health problems are costly to a business as they often lead to higher levels of absenteeism.

The main sources of poor air quality in the workplace include the following:

Building location – if located close to a highway, on previous industrial sites or on an elevated water table can cause dust and soot particles, dampness and water leaks, as well as chemical pollutants

Hazardous materials – even though asbestos has been banned for several years, it is still present in many public buildings; it is estimated that 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos in the workplace

Inadequate ventilation – IAQ is very dependent on an effective, well-maintained ventilation system that circulates and replaces used air with fresh air; if the system is not working correctly, it can lead to increased infiltration of pollution particles and humid air

Although OSHA does not have specific IAQ standards, it does have standards about ventilation and standards on some of the air contaminants that can be involved in IAQ issues. And the General Duty Clause of the Act itself requires employers to provide workers with a safe workplace that does not have any known hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious injury.

Even though there is no single test to find an IAQ issue, there are measures that can be taken, as well as inspections on the ventilation and HVAC systems and a building walk-through to check for odors and look for tell-tale signs of water damage and leaks. Workplace Safety & Health’s mission is to provide our clients with premier occupational safety and health services designed to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses, which promotes client profitability. Give us a call at 317-253-9737.

 

Tagged in: IAQ Indoor Air Quality

Roadside inspectors placed nearly 1,600 trucks and buses out-of-service for brake violations during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s unannounced Brake Safety Day on April 25.
According to CVSA, a total of 11,531 roadside inspections were conducted on Brake Safety Day, and 1,595 commercial vehicles, or 13.8 percent of those inspected, were placed out-of-service.

 Read entire article - https://www.ccjdigital.com/surprise-brake-inspection-blitz-puts-1600-trucks-out-of-service/

Posted by on in Uncategorized

More than 700,000 employees injure their eyes at work each year in the United States – that’s more than 2000 a day! Three hundred thousand of these injuries send employees to the emergency rooms each year, and 10-20% cause temporary or permanent vision loss. The most common causes for eye injuries are from flying bits of metal or glass, tools, particles, chemicals, harmful radiation or a combination of these hazards.

Experts believe using proper safety eyewear could have prevented, or at least lessened, 90% of the eye injuries occurring at work. Other than using the right eye protection, knowing the eye safety dangers at work is extremely important. Complete an eye hazard assessment, described in 29 CFR 1910.132 and Appendix B to Subpart I, and then eliminating hazards before starting work, such as machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls. Doing these three things can greatly reduce the likelihood of a workplace eye injury.

But what type of safety eye protection should you wear? That really depends on the hazards at your workplace. If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects or dust, you must wear at least safety glasses with side shields. If you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation, such as welding, lasers or fiber optics, then you must use specific eye protection for such jobs, including safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets designed for that specific task.

Here are a couple other tips to keep in mind to promote eye safety in the workplace:
• Employees should have regular comprehensive eye exams to verify their vision is adequate to complete their jobs safely.
• When an employee already has reduced vision, company provided prescription glasses or goggles would ensure more protective eyewear usage
• Make sure all employees know where the nearest eyewash station is at work and how to use it to properly clean their eyes
Your eyesight is your most critical sense. Protect it by making sure you are wearing the most appropriate and well-fitting eye safety protection – for Eye Injury Prevention Month and every month afterwards.

Starting in July 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires businesses across the U.S. to submit workplace illness and injury reports digitally.

 Read entire article - http://www.ehstoday.com/osha/5-ways-comply-new-osha-digitized-reporting-regulations

Tagged in: OSHA osha regulations

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