Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Indoor Air Quality Questionnaires
Investigating Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) complaints can present a complex and sensitive problem for safety professionals. In situations where symptoms are not severe or there is not an immediate danger, employees still may be concerned about their health and demand quick action by management.
Any number of issues may make it difficult to pinpoint the cause of many IAQ problems. Complaints can vary or be non-specific, for example, “I get a lot of colds.” Symptoms may be present but may vary from worker to worker. Individuals may be affected with the different symptoms or to a varying extent. Some individuals may be more sensitive than others. Many symptoms may also be caused by other health conditions, including common colds or the flu, and are not necessarily due to poor IAQ.
One of the best tools to indentify IAQ issues is a questionnaire. These questionnaires can identify the problem and its sources or causes. They also demonstrate that something is being done by management. Questionnaires get employees involved in searching for a solution. Questionnaires are best conducted in an interview format so an individual’s responses are not influenced by another. The interviewer should be tactful, friendly, and objective. The interview should be used to determine:
- What are the specific complaints, and what are the symptoms?
- When do these symptoms occur and in what locations?
- What events trigger the symptoms?
- What does the person think is the source of the problem?
- Are there specific characteristics that may be a factor such as smoking, allergies, medications, illnesses, disabilities, or special work?
Once the interviews are complete and the questionnaires are read and digested, further action may be needed. The results can be useful in further investigation and addressing future complaints. Actions may include an inspection of the HVAC system by a competent technician, a thorough facility inspection to rule out chemicals, renovations, or mold, and/or air testing by a qualified professional.
There are many IAQ questionnaires that can be purchased or available online for no charge. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Safety and Health has a Sample Health Survey in one of its fact sheets that is available at: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/iaq_intro.html.
For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at www.occusafeinc.com
OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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