The quality of air in the manufacturing sector continues to be underplayed and not acted upon with workers in the UK still being exposed to unhealthy levels of airborne hazards and pollution, according to research.
The white paper by charity Global Action Plan and company Zehnder Clean Air Solutions says an estimated 440,000 workers with health conditions that are exacerbated by air pollution are still being exposed to unhealthy levels of airborne hazards and pollution in manufacturing workplaces.
It also states that the presence of airborne hazards causes production issues, product quality and that impacts profit margins.
Other findings reveal that current regulation allows levels of airborne hazards and pollution that are dangerous to manufacturing workers’ health. It adds that regulation enforcement is not meeting the necessary standards.
Graeme Fox, head of technical at the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), welcomed the research.
He told Facilitate: "Many workplaces are being advised to open their windows to make use of 'natural' ventilation, but it should be noted that this is not a long-term solution for most. There is also a big difference between outside air and ‘fresh’ air. Bringing in outside air may create other risks to health if it is full of pollutants.
"Also, if there is little or no wind, the air will not naturally flow into a building from outside particularly if the temperature outside is colder than inside. In that case, the air will flow out rather than in; so even less supply air is available to the occupants.
"Many workplace-related illnesses can be easily avoided by the intervention of a ventilation/air conditioning specialist contractor to ensure workers can carry out their tasks without fear of long-term health implications.
"Mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems will filter the air and make sure it flows in the right directions to safeguard occupant health."
He added that "well-maintained ventilation systems will play a critical role in reducing any future spread of the virus – and improve the general health and wellbeing of building occupants in the long term too".