Running a public building comes with a laundry list of responsibilities. Some of the largest are also the most invisible.
We all know about the health effects of outdoor pollution, but do you know that indoor pollution is also one of the biggest risks to human health? The government does, and that’s why there’s a legal requirement to keep air ducts clean.
So, what exactly does the law say about keeping ducts clean? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are the Health Considerations?
The law concerning indoor pollution enforce pre-existing ethical considerations.
If your building has ductwork, then you also have a responsibility to keep it clean. Failing to do so exposes the people living or working in your building to polluted air – that’s the kind of negligence that none of us should have to deal with.
Scientists already know that indoor air pollution can cause cancer and heart disease. Poorly maintained ventilation systems also play a role in spreading communicable diseases.
Air pollution also leads to problems with the airways and sinuses, which can make breathing difficult. When these problems compound over the years, they can have a severe impact on quality of life.
What Does the Law Say?
The key legislation governing indoor air quality in workplaces is the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
Of these regulations, Reg 6 imposes the requirement of ventilation in the workplace. This sets out the need for workplaces to provide fresh or purified air to workers, including the need for regular cleaning and maintenance.
COSHH regulations also demand that employers undertake risk assessments with regards to hazardous substances, which includes dust and particulate matter. If this process discovers hazardous material, then it’s on the employer to prevent or limit exposure.
If you’re in violation of the law, you could end up on the wrong end of legal action. There have been successful cases of workers suing for compensation as a result of exposure to hazardous pollution levels, so you could be in for the same treatment if you fail to act.
How Can I Comply?
There’s good news for building operators: it’s not difficult to comply with the law.
Regular maintenance of air ducts reduces risk to health and puts you in compliance with the law.
There are even benefits to keeping your ducts clean. Regular cleaning will keep your maintenance costs down and may prolong the life of your equipment. Promoting clean air will reduce the chance of communicable illness spreading through the building, in turn reducing employee absence. Studies have even linked poor air quality to cognition problems, which could be reducing the performance of your employees or students under your care.
The Legal Requirement for Clean Ducts
As we’ve seen, keeping your ducts clean isn’t just a social responsibility, but a legal one, too. If your ducts are dirty, you need to resolve the issue before it becomes a public health concern. The benefits more than justify the cost.
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