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Many of us take for granted that the air that we breathe is clean, or at least clean enough not to cause us any serious long term effects or illnesses. Air pollution both inside and outside the home causes at least 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, according to new report, which estimates the cost of the damage at £20bn.
Ultimately, in the UK, it’s the Government: in England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs looks after compliance with the rigorous standards for maintaining and driving up improvements in standards of air quality laid down in European legislation. This responsibility is devolved to the national administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In regions of England, local authorities are required to review the air quality in their area and work towards improvement, if it is found lacking in any respect. That’s why the planners of a proposed residential or commercial development have to submit an air quality assessment as part of their planning application.
What about the air within the buildings in which we spend our working days? The average working week is around 40 hours and the average number of weeks worked in each year is around 47. It’s patently clear, therefore, that workers have a right to expect the air indoors to be as clean and hygienic as possible.
Responsibility for internal air quality at work lies with the employer. Air quality is easy to criticise, but much harder to monitor. And prevention is much better than cure: it is less costly over the longer term to routinely check and take steps to improve air quality than it is to foot the bill for sick leave, address remedial issues or even worse, pay the price of court cases in the future.
It’s well worth employing an expert with a good track record to carry out a workplace air quality assessment for your business. Not only will you benefit from the increased well-being of your staff; good air quality can also translate into significant economic savings and a positive, wider effect on environmental health in the long term.
For more information about our air hygiene services, click here,