The importance of air quality in the workplace

Few things are as important as the air we breathe – and you don’t need to take our word for it. According to the government, “poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK”. And, although most people associate poor air quality with busy urban spaces and slow-moving traffic, indoor air quality is just as important. In fact, indoor CO2 levels (one of the strongest indicators of air quality) can be far higher than those outside and can have a significant impact on wellbeing. Studies show a reliable correlation between high CO2 levels and asthma attacks, reduced sleep quality, and reduced cognitive ability.

There are several reasons you might want to address the air quality at your office or workplace.

The most pressing is probably that you have a legal obligation to do so. Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, employers are legally obliged to ensure that air quality is at least as good indoors as it is outside. So, if you have higher CO2 levels indoors than out, you could be in breach of the law. Levels in small meeting rooms with lots of people can easily reach as high as 2000 parts per million – enough to cause headaches, nausea, and tiredness – so you should always make sure you have adequate ventilation to prevent this happening.

But the continued threat of the Covid-19 and variants gives a new urgency to the indoor air quality issue. As Covid is transmitted principally through airborne particles, the risk of transmission indoors is far higher than outside (which is why social distancing guidelines focus primarily on indoor gatherings).

If you really want to make the air in your office as safe as the air outside, you need to do everything you can to reduce the risk of transmission. Improving ventilation is one way to lower harmful CO2 levels while reducing the presence of airborne virus particles. But there is another more effective way to lower the risk.

In addition to improving ventilation (thereby lowering CO2 levels), you can install a purpose-built air purifier to, at the same time, reduce the overall viral load in the air.  We recommend choosing one that actively destroys virus particles – rather than just filtering them out of the air. Our own air purifier, the AirVSAFE 2000, uses a Triple Air Treatment (TAT) system to clean the air. Fine filters take out the aerosol particles, powerful UVC lights destroys the virus, and our unique BubbleMaze technology disinfects the air with medical-grade bio-wash. As well as lowering CO2 levels, the AirVSAFE 2000 reduces the viral load in a room by 99% in under four hours and eliminates 90% of airborne Covid in under six minutes.

Apart from the legal obligations, improving indoor air quality benefits both your business and your employees. We’ve already mentioned that poor air-quality can reduce cognitive function – which of course is bad for productivity. Plus, according to the 2017 Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey, sickness-related absences and presenteeism (where staff are present but too ill to be productive) cost the UK economy £77.5 billion a year. Coughs, colds, and flu accounted for around a quarter of illnesses – so poor air quality is costing UK businesses around £19 billion a year. Installing an air purifier will reduce the transmission of colds and flu amongst employees and save some of those valuable lost hours.

Finally, improving indoor air quality at work can help with a challenge that many employees are likely to face in the New Year. At some point, (hopefully) we’ll reach a stage where we’re all able to return to work – but many employees are likely to feel nervous about returning to the office and spending long periods indoors with people outside their usual social bubble. Installing an air purifier is visible proof that you as an employer care for your staff’s wellbeing. It will give your employees the confidence and peace of mind that they need to return to the workplace and concentrate on what they do best – without worrying about infection.

If you’re looking to prepare your workplace for the return to work, we can help you identify the best measures to put in place with an independent AirRISK assessment. We can also provide you with the most effective air purifier available – the AirVSAFE 2000, so you can reduce the risk of transmission of airborne viruses. And, to give your employees an extra level of confidence, we can supply you with our smart AirSENSE CO2 monitors. These enable you to display a live read-out of your indoor CO2 levels on a smart screen, and reassure staff that they are breathing well-ventilated, safer air.