Inhalable dusts and weld fumes are a common challenge in manufacturing. While manufacturers know that they must control these contaminants in order to protect workers' health and to comply with regulations, the reasons extend beyond these factors. Poor air quality can have a real impact on both day-to-day productivity, hiring and retention.
Studies have demonstrated the connection between air quality and productivity. Improving air quality has been linked to reduced error rates, increased output and a significant reduction in absenteeism. A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found a 4.2% improvement in worker productivity when indoor air pollution levels were reduced by 10 ppb. Another study found that indoor air quality has been shown to significantly affect worker productivity and product quality in factories. Poor indoor air quality causes six additional lost workdays per year for every ten employees. Healthcare expenses and lost productivity due to poor air quality in the workplace could add up to tens of billions of dollars each year, according to the EPA.
Productivity is damaged when absenteeism spikes or recruitment falls short, as well. Indoor air quality is a factor when young workers make job decisions. Workers understand the effects of dust and welding fumes on their health, and they don't want to take any chances. Nor do they need to—their skills are currently much in demand. The need to take care of highly skilled workers is profound. These workers are simply more productive than their less experienced or well-trained counterparts.
The return on investment for improving air quality, in terms of productivity, is well documented. Studies have shown the payoff can come in as little as two years. In short, taking measures to improve indoor air quality makes good economic sense.