Does Poor Air Quality in the Office Affect Workers’ Health?
The health of employees should always be an immediate concern for any business, and the fact that office workers spend a large portion of their time indoors means office conditions should be well maintained to prevent any negative impact on workers’ health.
Recently, after a survey commissioned by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), concerns have surfaced regarding the air quality of offices around the UK. This month, we’re taking a look at this issue, and how poor air quality may or may not be a factor throughout the working day.
The survey itself investigated workers’ opinions on the air quality in their place of work, and how that has had an impact on their productivity and personal health. It was found that almost 70% of workers believe that poor air quality in their office has a negative effect on their productivity and well being – while a third of workers showed concerns regarding poor air quality and their own personal health.
The survey targeted symptoms commonly associated with poor indoor air quality, with many workers reporting symptoms such as: lapses in concentration, fatigue, reduced productivity and watery or irritated eyes, with almost 40% of these workers believing poor air quality and office ventilation to be the main causes.
The results of the survey certainly suggest a trend – although some of the symptoms could also be the result of other, individual lifestyle differences – and has definitely brought office air quality under scrutiny. The results of the survey follow hot on the heels of report published by the Royal College of Physicians, which investigated the link between indoor and outdoor air pollution and premature deaths around the UK.
The health concerns certainly have solid ground, when you look at how much time the average office worker spends indoors. It’s natural to expect that buildings which contain hundreds of people for every day for hours at a time should have sufficient infrastructure when it comes to protecting employees from illness or health concerns. Certainly, health and safety rules means aspects like rigid fire precautions must be in place, but often it is air quality and ventilation which is overlooked.
Many office workers rely on open windows to circulate fresh air, and that will be their first course of action if they notice that the indoor air quality is dropping, but this is often not good enough. Proper ventilation is key, and more offices should invest in proper air conditioning systems to keep indoor air circulated and fresh at all times. Indoor air pollution has been linked to increased chance of strokes and heart attacks in some, so it should be vital that indoor air quality in offices is regulated and maintained.
Keeping indoor air circulated and changing is important when trying to maintain air quality, and the best way to achieve this – especially in large offices – is with professionally installed and well maintained air conditioning systems. Opening windows gives temporary relief, and can invite outdoor air pollutants inside, further reducing the indoor air quality.
Modern buildings aren’t usually built with indoor air quality in mind, instead wanting to focus on energy conservation, meaning an air tight design is opted for. This creates unchanging air conditions, which can only be sufficiently rectified with an air conditioning system.
While the concrete impact of office air quality on an individual’s health isn’t entirely certain, it is more than reasonable to expect offices to provide proper ventilation for workers – of only to improve general comfort levels and, therefore, happiness and productivity. Keeping away harmful air pollutants is important, and hopefully the results of the survey and the report that preceded it, will create a renewed push towards proper air quality infrastructure for offices throughout the UK.
Conditioned Environment have over 45 years of experience and have become a leading supplier of air conditioning systems throughout London and the surrounding areas. Our expertly trained team of engineers install and maintain air conditioning systems to the highest standards, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today for more information on all our products and services.