What is Ductwork?
Ductwork is the product used to transport warm/cool air around a building and into specific rooms or areas via ceiling grilles. It is a system of ducts, conduits, pipes and vents which are constructed to provide air ventilation, cooling or heating . The more complex the building the more complex the system of ducts and vents providing the supply of air.
What is Air Quality?
This is how the air we breathe is constituted and mainly examines if there any pollutants in the air, plus the temperature, relative humidity and levels of Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Like the quality of water we drink, the quality of the air we work, shop or live in is just as important. That is why both are highly regulated by legislation in the UK to ensure premises owners fulfil their duty of care to provide clean water and air to their staff and visitors. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that they must do what is “ reasonably practicable” as a common “duty of care”.
Following the pandemic the interest in air quality which also covers the volume of pathogens or bacteria in the air has greatly heightened. If a room has poor air circulation or has heavy bio-loading ( the volume of people in the space ) there will be a greater propensity for bacteria and viruses to be contained in the air.
Indoor Air Quality
Air quality refers to the make-up of the air we breathe. This includes the temperature of the air, the amount of contaminants in the air, pollution, dust, pollen, pathogens or bacteria. It is important, and part of the duty of care to staff and visitors, that your air quality is kept to satisfactory standards.
Air Quality Monitoring
As the old business adage says “ you can only manage what you can measure”. Therefore, to ensure indoor air quality adheres to legislative guidelines there needs to be put in place a regular testing and monitoring protocol which data can be recorded for analysis and compliance purposes.
In a shared indoor space where people are mixing and sharing the same air , for example, offices, hospitality buildings, schools, hospitals etc it is important to monitor the quality of air for signs of excess carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide, both of which can be very harmful or even fatal.
In addition, it is also possible through sampling and analysis to identify the level of pathogens in the air.
Air quality monitoring will also record room temperature. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, places a legal obligation on employers to provide a 'reasonable' temperature in the workplace. The minimum temperature employees can work in is 16 degrees C , unless physical activity is involved and it can dip to 13 degrees C.
The warmest room temperature is harder to specify because of the different working conditions people operate eg foundry work , glass blowing. Also, other factors to bear in mind are heating devices and whether they give off fumes, if suitable clothing can be provided for the facility which may be warm or cooler items as required.
Hot Room Temperature Working
If room temperature nears to the upper levels for working in the UK in offices you can consider using electrical cooling devices , looking at relaxing dress codes as appropriate , providing more breaks, more shaded areas, more chilled water etc as well as more job rotation.
Cold Room Temperature Working
Again every effort should be made to keep your staff warm with the right clothing and use of heating devices. If your staff are performing vigorous physical work this can be taken into account. As always you have a duty of care to your staff and visitors.
Workplace Exposure Limits
The latest version of the Health & Safety legislation Containing the list of workplace exposure limits for use with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 , commonly know as the EH40 outlines the control required for exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace.
The Health and Safety Executive have recently updated the WEL’s or workplace exposure limits which can be found in detail on their website .
Hardwood dusts (including mixed dusts) ■ Chromium (VI) compounds ■ Refractory ceramic fibres ■ Respirable crystalline silica ■ Vinyl chloride monomer ■ Ethylene oxide ■ 1,2-Epoxypropane ■ Acrylamide ■ 2-Nitropropane ■ O-Toluidine ■ 1,3-Butadiene ■ Hydrazine ■ Bromoethylene
Outdoor Air Quality
Generally, outdoor air quality AQI (Air Quality Index) values lower than 100 are considered good. When it rises over 100, this is when it could start to effect people and create health concerns.
What is Air Quality index?
The Air Quality Index was recommended by the Committee on Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) and this Committee is also concerned with outdoor air quality. It aims to give a reference for monitoring and comparing air quality to tell you what pollution levels are in the air and what actions you can take to reduce or improve them.
With the AQI, the rating score is determined by the highest concentration of five pollutants:
- O Zone
- Sulphur Dioxide
- Nitrogen Dioxode
- Particles <2.5nm (PM 2.5)
- Particles <10nm (PM10)
Outdoor air quality can effect indoor air quality