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Improving Indoor Air Quality in the Workplace: The Net is Closing

Indoor air quality (IAQ) has gained significant attention in recent years as workplaces have become more aware of its impact on employee health and well-being. Recognizing the importance of clean air, regulatory bodies and organizations are taking proactive measures to address IAQ concerns. 

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has developed a draft Code of Practice for IAQ, while the British Standards Institution (BSI) has released a new Code of Practice for indoor environmental quality. These developments mark a step forward in safeguarding workers’ health and enhancing the quality of their working environments.


The HSA’s Draft Code of Practice for IAQ

The HSA’s draft Code of Practice for IAQ is a comprehensive document aimed at assisting employers in assessing and improving IAQ in the workplace. The code offers a practical risk assessment approach that allows employers to determine IAQ reasonably.

Key parameters, including carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, air changes per hour, temperature/humidity, and ventilation rates, are included to establish baseline assessments. By implementing these assessments, employers can identify areas that require improvement and take appropriate measures.

Moreover, the draft code emphasizes the importance of risk assessment competency in relation to the complexity of the workplace. It provides guidance on investigating IAQ complaints and offers detailed information on ventilation, air filtration, and the use of carbon dioxide monitors. The code also promotes the concept of designing out IAQ issues, addressing the root causes of poor air quality.

Importantly, the draft Code of Practice for IAQ differentiates between requirements under the General Application Regulations and other legislation and codes of practice, such as the Chemical Agents Regulations. By highlighting these distinctions, it ensures that employers have a clear understanding of their obligations and the relationship between various regulations.


The BSI’s Code of Practice for Indoor Environmental Quality

The BSI has introduced a new Code of Practice for indoor environmental quality in non-domestic buildings. This code, BS 40102-1:2023, aligns with the World Health Organisation’s stricter air quality guidelines for all non-domestic buildings. It recommends monitoring and action against major air pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and formaldehyde.

The code sets a higher standard for IAQ than previous guidance, emphasizing the importance of clean air. Clean air advocacy groups are urging the HVAC industry to endorse and recommend the code to their customers, including construction contractors, facility managers, and landlords.

BS 40102-1 provides guidance on measuring, monitoring, and reporting the well-being and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) performance of occupied buildings and associated building services. It introduces an evaluation and rating system to enhance IEQ. This system generates an IEQ performance score that serves as a benchmark for identifying areas of below-par performance and facilitating improvements.


Applicability and Benefits

BS 40102-1 applies to non-domestic buildings, encompassing existing building stock. It can be used in existing buildings, renovations, and new developments. The code covers a good practice approach to evaluating and assessing air quality, light quality, thermal comfort, and acoustic and soundscape quality. By adopting this code, organizations can measure and report on health and well-being factors, establish targets for improvement, and create healthier, more efficient buildings.


Enhancing Workplace Air Quality for Improved Health and Efficiency

The convergence of the HSA’s draft Code of Practice for IAQ and the BSI’s Code of Practice for indoor environmental quality represents a step forward in addressing IAQ concerns in workplaces. These codes provide employers with practical tools and guidelines to assess, monitor, and improve air quality, ultimately benefiting employees’ health, well-being, and productivity.

By implementing the HSA’s draft Code of Practice, employers can systematically assess their workplace IAQ and identify potential areas for improvement. 

On the other hand, the BSI’s Code of Practice raises the bar for IAQ standards by aligning with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. It encourages the measurement and reporting of IEQ performance, allowing organizations to identify areas of improvement and enhance the well-being of building occupants. 

At the same time as we see pressure to reduce energy, amplified by high energy costs. This can put some workplaces under pressure to deliver on both air quality, comfort, and reductions of energy use. 

Ventilations systems that adapt to demand are underutilized in all but the most modern buildings and here perhaps in the rest of the workplace-built environment is a chance for a double win. 

Meet increasing demands for better air quality while reducing energy use with demand-based ventilation (Demand Controlled Ventilation)

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