Learn the importance of complying with indoor air quality (IAQ) standards to ensure and promote the health and safety of occupants.
Published 9 Sep 2023
Indoor air quality standards refer to established guidelines and benchmarks that define acceptable levels of air pollutants, contaminants, and conditions within indoor environments such as homes, offices, schools, and public buildings. These standards are developed by governmental agencies, health organizations, and expert committees to safeguard the health, comfort, and well-being of occupants by ensuring that the air they breathe is of a certain quality.
The United States Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) states that all employers have the responsibility to provide a safe environment for their employees, including a well-ventilated workplace within the ideal indoor air quality range.
Hence, standards for indoor air quality must be established through extensive research, data collection, and scientific consensus. Complying with such standards is essential to minimize the risk of health problems associated with poor indoor air quality.
Apart from those, here are the other common benefits of compliance with IAQ standards:
Regulatory agencies and international organizations develop, update, and enforce IAQ standards to create healthier indoor environments for everyone by providing guidelines for acceptable levels of indoor air pollutants and conditions.
It’s important to note that IAQ standards can vary from country to country due to differences in environmental conditions, building practices, and health concerns. Here are some of the notable ones from various jurisdictions:
Another important thing to note is that even if there are no exact OSHA indoor air quality standards, the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act still requires employers to provide a safe workplace free of any known hazards that may cause injury or death to workers.
Health Canada sets specific guidelines for residential IAQ based on the assessment of the risks posed by specific indoor pollutants to help ensure safe and healthy indoor environments.
While the Australian government recognizes the fact that Australia currently has no specific controls on IAQ compared to the USA, the guidelines on workplace situations state that employers must ensure safe working conditions and ventilation as per Safe Work Australia.
The Health and Safety Executive notes Regulation 6 under the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations, which states that employers must ensure all enclosed workplaces are well-ventilated by a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air.
The EU has also established IAQ standards to address pollutants such as benzene, carbon monoxide, and other VOCs. Note that under the EU law, there are also permitted exceedances per year for each identified pollutant.
To help individuals, businesses, and institutions ensure compliance with IAQ standards, they must take the following practical tips:
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Challenges in Achieving IAQ Standards Compliance
Maintaining compliance with IAQ standards can be a complex endeavor, as various challenges can arise due to the following reasons and factors:
IAQ training equips individuals and professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to create and maintain indoor environments that prioritize health and well-being. Whether you’re an occupant, building manager, or industry professional, IAQ education contributes to a safer and more comfortable living and working environment in these ways:
Some of the most common topics that can be covered in IAQ training are the following:
Also, you can use checklists to proactively identify issues and improvement opportunities when assessing indoor air quality.
Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.
Since the quality of indoor air has a direct impact on the health and well-being of occupants, organizations must streamline their processes of regularly inspecting and assessing IAQ levels in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.
Leveraging tools like SafetyCulture offers an opportunity for operational improvement in complying with IAQ standards by doing the following:
Patricia Guevara is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. With her extensive content writing and copywriting experience, she creates high-quality content across a variety of relevant topics. She aims to promote workplace safety, operational excellence, and continuous improvement in her articles. She is passionate about communicating how technology can be used to streamline work processes, empowering companies to realize their business goals.
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