Construction employers in Ohio may be wondering if they can improve the indoor environmental quality, or IEQ, in their workplace. Fortunately, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has provided a list of detailed recommendations to this end.
First, the institute considers how construction, renovation, repair and demolition projects can produce airborne contaminants like dusts, gases and organic vapors. Exposure to these contaminants can lead to headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and eye, throat and nose irritation. To avoid this, employers should make sure that everyone, including any sub-contractors, knows what sort of impact the project will have.
There must be controls in place to limit exposure to dust and other contaminants, and these must be in compliance with certain federal standards. For instance, OSHA has lead and asbestos standards in place, and the EPA has regulations for the renovation and demolition of school buildings.
Employers should be careful about using high-emissions building materials because these, along with dampness and the presence of mold, have been linked to asthma and asthma-like symptoms. NIOSH also makes recommendations for more effective hazard communication with workers and building occupants. When contract bidding, employers should specify the need to maintain acceptable IEQ. They must have protections in place for HVAC systems, too.
When bad IEQ contributes to a health condition in a worker, that individual can be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Filing a workers' comp claim is not as hard as filing a personal injury claim since no one's negligence needs to be established, but the employer can still deny payment, in which case victims may have to mount an appeal. Victims may hire a lawyer for assistance with each step. If successful, victims might be reimbursed for medical expenses, a portion of lost wages and any short- or long-term disability leave.