There is potential that the air in warehouses can have a dangerous amount of pollutants. Warehouses often have the presence of emissions from machinery such as forklifts and trucks. If there is a mix of poorly ventilated areas that are chronically damp, the problem of toxic mold can arise.
You might be asking since it is a warehouse, a place to temporarily store rotating goods, why does air quality matter? Simply put, the reason why the air quality in warehouses matters is because it is still a workplace. The employees based in the warehouses breathe They breathe the air for at least 8 hours (at most 12) a day every day, year in and year out.
In fact, poor air quality in a warehouse can have damaging effects on the employee’s working abilities. What can poor air quality do? It can lead to higher health care costs, a lower productivity rate, and an escalating employee turnover rate.
The Benefits of Clean Air in a Warehouse?
Having good and clean air is beneficial to everyone as we all need air to breathe. Warehouses often have problems when it comes to having clean air in their facilities. Air cleaners are one way to help such polluted areas. Air cleaners filter dust, pollen and in some cases virus’s out of the air. They also give benefits such as lower cleaning and maintenance costs, a cleaner and healthier working environment.
Factors that can Lead to Poor Indoor Air Quality
Employees are often exposed to notable amounts of chemicals volatile organic compounds (VOT) and pollutants. These factors make critical health hazards for workers within warehouses, factories, etc. Air quality will always have a huge impact on a person’s health.
There are a lot of factors that can lead to poor indoor air quality within a warehouse.
- Exhaust fumes from constant pick up and drop-off of goods.
- Chemical emissions coming from raw materials or the manufacturing processes.
- Poor ventilation. This becomes a problem during winter, due to the cold making the warehouses needing to be sealed. Poor upkeep of the ventilation, heating, and air conditioning systems is also a problem.
- Dampness and moisture. This comes from when there are leaks, flooding, or high humidity.
The most prevalent of the toxic gases within the warehouse is carbon monoxide. This comes from diesel forklifts driven inside the warehouse. This poses a very significant threat as carbon monoxide poisoning is a danger to the body’s internal organs. Carbon monoxide poisoning’s early symptoms are nonspecific but flu-like. They include dizziness, weakness, headaches, nausea, visual disturbance, confusion, chest pain, and unconsciousness. Building ventilation alone should not be relied upon to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
What are the effects of IAQ in the Warehouse?
Air pollutants can be a major threat to our health, despite the fact we don’t see them. It can cause illnesses such as respiratory disease or even cancer. Sick employees would then lead to some sick-leaves. Even one sick-leave day can cost the employer a lot already. This makes it hard to recruit qualified personnel as it will indirectly affect a poor employer image.
Expenses for business owners would increase in many ways due to poor indoor air quality. This can also slow down production. Delays or quality issues would arise if sensitive robotics would have any malfunctions. It would then lead to numerous defective products. These defects would then be tossed into scrap. It would then cause more losses and delays when the manufacturing equipment is being maintained. Running operations would be more expensive the more the equipment is maintained. The high level of cleanliness adds up to the lifecycle of manufacturing devices. This is due to preventing the transmission of airborne pathogens.
Is there a solution?
To help prevent many issues involving poor air quality, one key solution is by just simply to pay attention to your surroundings.
Try to observe around for triggers that have a chance of causing poor air quality. Ensure that the warehouse is up to date and has regular maintenance. Actions may be different and depend on every facility and the resources in each, there are basic steps that must be considered, to begin with.
One solution is to replace old forklifts in the facility. For gas or diesel forklifts, the older ones are often still used. However, operating old forklifts can result in being exposed to gases and fumes. The employees would be at high risk if that happens. As such, outdated pieces must be replaced. Doing so will help improve not only the air quality but also help boost efficiency as well.
Another outdated piece that needs either repair or replacement is the old HVAC. It’s the one responsible for pumping air throughout the building to help keep things cool. However, if it is not clean or up-to-date with a good filter, that poses a huge problem. The warehouse would have an issue of spores, mold, fumes, and chemicals being spread about. The HVAC may help keep things cool by pumping air but it can be a big problem if the filters are not clean. So to help with that, the old HVAC will either need to be repaired or be replaced.
Alarms would be quite a big help as well. Normally there are fire alarms, but an alarm for carbon monoxide can prevent endangering the warehouse and its employees. The carbon monoxide alarm can help prevent the dangerous gas from harming anyone within the facility. There can also be other alarms to help detect other harmful gases or chemicals. Doing so can help take action on these issues.
Eliminating moisture helps since moisture increases the risk of mold. Eliminating moisture can also help prevent the risk of poor air quality. If the warehouse has problems like outright leaks in areas that seem to never dry up, there would need to be required remediation. Remediation would especially be needed if the warehouse has standing water, wet areas, or roof sections that leak when it rains.
Workers will also need protection since in a way they would also be handling known hazards. Supply safety equipment such as individual respirators and masks can help protect them. They can be of daily use if there is a possible problem and also for ensuring safety for your workers.
By learning more about indoor air quality and taking steps to identify the most common issues, workers can be protected and businesses would be ensured to follow important safety regulations.
All in all, air quality can prove to be a difficult issue to check and oversee. Paying attention to the signs that the facility might not be safe for workers is very important. Relying only on the environment control systems isn’t enough. Signs of poor air quality can sometimes show from the workers themselves. However, not all exposures to poor air quality would necessarily lead to symptoms.
Good building management can lead to a more proactive and ensured healthy environment. Air quality, comfort, and temperature control may pose a huge problem for warehouses, but taking steps to improve the conditions can already help create a healthier and more comfortable working environment. In doing so, workers and employees can increase their productivity and give them peace of mind.
We can help protect workers and employees by taking the time to further research and take necessary action regarding this issue. In doing so, businesses can be ensured to follow the important safety regulations.