There are more benefits to going green than just saving the world, you know. You can also prevent your employees from getting ill and save yourself from a few Workers’ Comp Insurance claims at the same time.
How, you ask? By paying attention to what’s inside your office.
When you switch to nontoxic cleaning supplies, furniture, and building supplies (or choose these in the first place as you grow your business), you improve the air quality and eliminate harmful toxins. In turn, your workers' productivity and health may improve, which helps your bottom line and can curb toxin-related Workers' Comp claims.Let's explore the correlation in a little more detail.
How Indoor Air Quality Impacts Worker Health
We don't often think about air pollution indoors, but we should – it’s where most of us spend our entire working day. All the chemicals, gases, and particles that we breathe in can have a dramatic effect on how we feel. As Marilyn Black, founder of UL Air Quality Sciences, points out, indoor air pollutants can lead to all sorts of harmful effects in workers, including…
- Eye and nasal irritation.
Some of most common types of pollutant found in the office are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are organic chemicals that can easily evaporate into the air. They can be released from fuels, fabric materials, paints, stains, varnishes, and many other common materials. In addition to these, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists other sources of emissions, including…
- Office equipment (VOCs, ozone).
- Stored supplies (solvents, toners, ammonia, chlorine).
- Carpet, furnishings, and building components (VOCs including formaldehyde from glues, fabric treatments, stains, and varnishes).
Breathe easy tip: Select items, supplies, and materials that don’t emit VOCs to improve your workspace. Doing so may make your workers feel better, which could lead to fewer Workers’ Comp claims altogether, and it may cut down on employee absences, which increases productivity. Even better, you can find materials that support sustainable environmental practices and don’t contribute to pollution.
Troubleshoot Ventilation Concerns to Improve Worker Health
One of the reasons indoor pollution can be so severe is that we tend to work in stuffy buildings. "One of the most common air quality problems I see is a lack of outdoor air ventilation,” says Ian Cull (@IAQnerd), indoor air consultant and owner of Indoor Science. “When it is very cold or hot outside, buildings will often reduce the amount of outdoor air ventilation they are providing. Perhaps this is done to save energy or to alleviate temperature complaints. Nevertheless, buildings should bring in the minimum outdoor air ventilation required by code.”
Breathe easy tip: “Building codes require continuous ventilation,” Cull says, so adjust your systems accordingly. He says that often, the HVAC systems in offices shut down completely once the thermostat is satisfied, but that means they stop bringing in outside air.
However, ventilation is only one part of the air-quality puzzle. “It is important to note that ventilation is not a silver bullet for indoor air quality problems,” says Cull. “It is almost always better to control the source of pollutants rather than trying to ventilate and dilute them once generated."
Sometimes, it pays to consider the many ways you can encourage a safe and healthy workplace. Learn about the financial incentive to improve small business workplace conditions in "How Workplace Safety Can Save a Business Money."