After addressing any immediate concerns—such as seeking medical care for anyone who needs it, adding temporary ventilation or shutting down a process that is dangerous—you can start looking for the possible causes of your air quality problem. If you haven’t done an air quality audit recently, one is recommended. These audits are performed by licensed professionals who monitor your air, collect samples, analyze the data and produce a comprehensive report on your air quality. They will be able to tell you exactly what is in your air and in what quantities.
There are many good reasons to have an air quality report on file. The most significant one is the improved ability to protect your workers. It is also useful in meeting air quality regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues exposure limits for many specific substances, and only by knowing what is in your air can you be sure you are complying with these regulations.
OSHA offers employers help in meeting these regulations. Their Compliance Assistance Specialists can identify ways a facility is falling short and can advise on ways to bring it into compliance. If a company gets an OSHA on-site consultation, it cannot result in penalties or citations.
Many options exist to remedy air quality problems. Increasing ventilation can reduce workers’ exposure to contaminants. If the volume of contaminants is high or if those substances are toxic, a more intensive solution would likely be required. A dust or fume collector that filters the air would protect workers throughout a facility and would also ensure regulatory compliance. High-volume applications like robotic welding cells would call for a source capture unit, which grabs the weld fumes at the source. Applications where the contaminants are less toxic could possibly be addressed by ambient capture equipment. These dust collectors circulate the air in a facility and filter out the contaminants, making sure everyone in the facility is protected.