Have you seen some technical people hanging around your office with hand-held equipment, taking down notes as they go about? We always get the strange look from office occupants as we carry out indoor air quality assessment to find out the physical, chemical and biological conditions of the indoor air. Even though the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) Malaysia has established the Industry Code of Practice (ICOP) on Indoor Air Quality in 2010, indoor air quality assessment is still an uncommon practice to be done in office buildings since there are usually no hazardous activity going on like in factories and there is no people with health issues who are more susceptible to poor air quality like in hospitals.
Here are 4 reasons why indoor air quality assessment should be done in offices.
Office occupants spend long hours in the office
If you are working on normal office hours, you spend at least 8 hours a day in the office, excluding time spent for OT. Breathing in poor air for 1/3 of the span of your day can cause Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), discomforts like headache, irritated skin, difficulty in breathing and dizziness that can greatly affect your productivity. Chronically, poor air quality might even cause health problems as you unknowingly inhale invisible air pollutants such as particulate matter, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide or even ozone. Modern office buildings are designed to be fully enclosed, with ventilation fully relies on the centralized air conditioning system. If the air quality was poor and the ventilation system does not function optimally, the bad air will be circulated continuously, affecting every office occupants.
Indoor air quality issues are usually unseen
One of the reasons the main cause of SBS is hard to be pinpointed is that air quality issues are usually invisible. Is the humidity too high? Is there mold growing in the ventilation system out of people’s sight? Is there high concentration of dust with the size of 0.01 mm lurking in the air? With special air quality monitoring equipment, we can find out the concentrations of certain air pollutants in the air besides collecting samples of bacteria and mold to be analyzed and quantified in the laboratory. Most importantly, indoor air quality assessment can investigate the ventilation performance of the centralized air conditioning system which plays a crucial role in maintaining a good air quality for the indoor environment by bringing in fresh outdoor air to dilute and remove air pollutants.
As a guide for facility management to mitigate the issues
Only when the root causes of indoor air quality issues are determined, suitable rectification methods can be proposed to solve the indoor air quality issues once and for all. If the cause of the poor air quality was mold growing on the water-stained wall, water leakage problem should be fixed while removing the mold and re-painting the wall. If the air pollutants came from outdoor, the fresh air intake of the centralized air conditioning system might need to be re-routed to a place with clean outdoor air. When the person-in-charge of the facility management try their best to provide the best facilities for office occupants, the report of indoor air quality assessment can give them a better idea on how to solve an indoor air quality issue or to further improve the indoor environment quality.
An opportunity to address our welfare in the office
As stated in the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (OSHA), employers are responsible to provide a safe and healthy environment for the employees or visitors. ICOP also emphasized the obligation of the owner of the workplace in ensuring a good working environment for the building occupants. Questionnaires are usually given out to office occupants during indoor air quality assessment to evaluate their experiences towards the indoor environmental quality to identify whether they experience SBS or thermal discomfort. Thus it is a good chance to file a complaint with the indoor air quality assessment executive by filling in the form so that the facility management can be informed of the indoor environment related issues experienced by the office occupants.
Even though indoor air quality assessment is not compulsory in office buildings, it is recommended to conduct the assessment once or twice every year to monitor the indoor environment quality of the building so that any issue arises can be nipped at the bud. Have no idea on how to start? Call us at +603 2287 0079 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information! We strive to ensure an optimum working environment for you and your clients.