While many workplaces and employees focus on protecting themselves from the dangers of large machines and physical work, there’s another hazard that has to be accounted for: air.
Air can be even more dangerous when employees are working in enclosed spaces, such as manufacturing plants and other industrial settings. To ensure the safety of all employees, employers must understand the risks of poor indoor air quality and the importance of meeting Grade D breathable air standards.
What is Grade D breathable air?
The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s Grade D breathable air regulation stipulates equipment and machines create air safe for humans to inhale. Workers need manufactured air when working in chemical plants or in spaces where oxygen levels are low.
Breathable air machines have to meet the following chemical element requirements:
- Oxygen content between 19.5 to 23.5 percent.
- Hydrocarbon content no more than 5 milligrams per cubic meter of air.
- Carbon monoxide content less than 10 parts per million.
- A lack of noticeable odor.
OSHA’s breathing air standards
Processing, chemical and other industrial facilities need to pay particular attention to OSHA Grade D standards because these workspaces often involve the use of harmful substances that impact air quality. For example, industrial facilities are hotbeds for poor air due to the abundance of gases and vapors, according to OSHA’s Indoor Air Quality in Commercial and Institutional Buildings guide. Further, IAQ issues may result from chemical spills, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde.
Due to the prevalence of harmful substances in industrial facilities, employers have to ensure employees have the proper respiratory equipment on hand. These can include personal respirators as well as larger products that produce high-volume breathing air on site.
“Industrial facilities are hotbeds for poor air due to the abundance of gases and vapors.”
If breathable air doesn’t meet OSHA standards, employees may suffer health side-effects associated with poor air quality.
What are the dangers of poor air quality?
According to OSHA, poor IAQ can have an impact on employee health, and the Environmental Protection Agency said poor air is one of the top five most urgent public risks to health.
Common short-term side effects of poor IAQ may include some of the following:
- Irritation in eyes, nose, throat and lungs.
- Difficulty concentrating.
Long-term effects of poor air may be cancer, respiratory and heart diseases. Air can even worsen health conditions like asthma.
The above side effects, such as difficulty concentrating, may even lead to more serious accidents around hazardous machines.
What can companies do about poor IAQ?
Poor air can be prevalent for a few reasons, some of which are the result of an industry. For example, there’s bound to be poor air in oil facilities and similar settings with substances that emit strong odors.
Still, there’s no reason why companies should ignore air quality. Safety departments need to identify problem areas in a facility and work toward addressing them. Installing or updating HVAC systems could have a positive impact. Further steps may include updating respiratory programs so employees have access to breathing equipment.
In other instances, companies can incorporate new technology that specializes in creating Grade D breathable air.
One of those devices is the Smart Compressor Breathing Air Solution from Total Safety. This second generation solution is an innovative replacement for traditional air breathing system commonly found in industrial settings.
“There’s no reason why companies should ignore air quality.”
Why should companies install this device? Well, it’s built with the latest technology to detect gas and immediately improve the atmosphere by producing high-volume, low-pressure Grade D breathable air.
Total Safety director of product management Binu Joy emphasized the newest Smart Compressor showcases the company’s commitment to safety.
“We have listened to the needs of plant managers and incorporated the very best technologies on the market to ensure workers are getting the highest quality Grade D breathing air and all data is gathered, monitored, addressed and retained in real time,” said Joy.
Poor air quality is a serious concern, particularly within industrial settings. It’s up to employers to address IAQ in order to create safe working spaces.
For more help achieving Grade D breathable air standards, contact Total Safety today.