Maintaining healthy indoor air quality is an important step for all of your employee’s health. Regardless of whether you work in an industrial, service or office setting, common allergens and irritants may be closer than you realize.

Ensure Tobacco-Free Environments

All workplaces should be 100% tobacco-free to ensure that employees are breathing safe and healthy air. Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard causing more than 41,000 deaths per year. It can cause or exacerbate a wide range of adverse health effects, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Download a sample tobacco-free policy.

Establish a Fragrance-free Policy for Employees and Visitors

Fragrances can and do affect indoor air quality. They also represent potential health hazards for employees with allergies and chronic lung diseases.

  • Fragrance-free policies usually include language such as: DO NOT wear perfumes, colognes, aftershave, scented lotions or scented hairspray while at work. This sample Fragrance-free Policy can help you get started.
  • Additionally, strong-smelling cleaning products can actually be detrimental to your efforts to create a healthy indoor environment. This sample Letter to Building Management can encourage the use of fragrance-free cleaning products.

Proactively Maintain Healthy Indoor Air Quality

Many office buildings have significant indoor air problems and poor ventilation due to improper operation and maintenance of HVAC systems.

Use Integrated Pest Management Techniques

Exposure to pesticides can cause both short-term and long-term health problems. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally-sensitive approach that relies on common-sense practices. With current and comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interactions with the environment, IPM uses the most economical and safest means while avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals that worsen indoor air quality.

Simple steps to ensure a pest-free environment:

  • Clean refrigerators weekly
  • Dispose of food in pest-proof waste bins
  • Work with building management to dispose of trash daily
  • The Environmental Protection Agency's Integrated Pest Management for Buildings is available all individuals responsible for pest prevention and management in buildings including building managers, cleaning staff, maintenance staff, building occupants and pest management professionals.

Manage Employee Exposure to Unhealthy Outdoor Air Quality

Impurities in the air such as ozone and particle pollution can be possible sources of lung irritation for all employees. In addition, individuals with asthma and COPD are particularly sensitive to the health risks of outdoor air pollution. Particle pollution can increase the risk of heart disease, COPD, lung cancer and asthma attacks and can interfere with the growth and work of the lungs. Reducing workers' exposure to outdoor air pollution, especially on high pollution days, can be crucial to the health of your employees.

To reduce worker exposure on high air pollution days:

  • Establish a "work from home" policy, especially for employees with chronic lung diseases, to minimize their exposure to outdoor air pollutants on days with unhealthy levels of air pollution.
  • Limit outdoor exposure for employees, especially employees with chronic lung diseases, when air quality levels are orange or higher (when possible).
  • Check air quality forecasts daily and avoid work outdoors if air quality is at unhealthy levels (red or purple).

Page last updated: June 23, 2020

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