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Workplace Productivity Linked to Cleanliness

How you can increase productivity and reduce absenteeism in your workplace

The amount of clean air inside a working environment is not only a critical influence on health, reducing ‘sick building syndrome‘ and employees non attendance due to illness, but has been found to be a significant factor in cognitive function.

Long term exposure, to the ‘acceptable’ levels of particle sin the air, dictated by government standards in the UK, is affecting workers long term, and not just health but productivity too.

A Havard Business Review study on 100 workers in 10 buildings, in double blind testing, concluded:

We found that breathing better air led to significantly better decision-making performance among our participants. We saw higher test scores across nine cognitive function domains when workers were exposed to increased ventilation rates, lower levels of chemicals, and lower carbon dioxide. The results showed the biggest improvements in areas that tested how workers used information to make strategic decisions and how they plan, stay prepared, and strategize during crises. These are exactly the skills needed to be productive in the knowledge economy.

Joseph G. Allen – Havard Business Review

What COVID-19 has shown us is the importance of air hygiene as well as surface hygiene. As an industry we have all worked together to find out what we can do to destroy the virus. One of the major projects the industry has is how to destroy the virus in the air, as only by destroying the virus in the air can we tackle the risk of airborne viruses.

It’s not just airborne virus protection which is a benefit of clean air, but poor quality air – with a high level of particle matter (PM) – poses many risks itself. Risks associated with Particle Matter Pollution include:

  • Premature death in people with heart or lung disease
  • Nonfatal heart attacks
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Aggravated asthma
  • Decreased lung function
  • Increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing

In the UK the limit for particles in the air is 25mg per cubic litre. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends there are no more than 10mg per cubic litre of air, so the UK is allowing 2.5 times the amount of particles in the air.

Currently, the WHO says a safer annual mean limit for PM2.5 is 10 μg/m3, whereas the UK recommends a level of more than double at 25μg/m3. The WHO believe lowering PM2.5 to this lower level could reduce deaths from pollution related by around 15%. The WHO are equally tough on PM10, where they recommend an annual level of just 20 μg/m3, whereas the EU has set a level of 40 µg/m3.

For these tight new targets to become achievable much more work is needed, as currently many cities around the UK are already struggling to reach less ambitious UK pollution targets.

What a cleaning company can do for your business to combat poor air quality includes:

  • Removal of dust – Dusting, on, in, under and around every item in your business to trap particles and remove them. Using microfibre cloths increases the cleanliness further as they are able to trap smaller particles.
  • Utilising non-toxic cleaning products – Professional cleaners don’t need toxic products to get a hygienic result. Bleach and other toxins can be released into your building adding to your particle pollution as an irritant.
  • Air filtration – Using HEPA air filters, air in your building can be actively cleaned of the polluting particles. HEPA is a standard that requires rigorous testing to achieve, and guarantees to remove at least 99.97% of particles from the air down to at least 0.3 micron. Vacuums are available with HEPA filters built in, ensuring that whilst cleaning these particles are trapped and removed, rather than released in to the air.
  • No more air fresheners – Regular cleaning with non-toxic eco-friendly products can ensure your building smells fresh and clean naturally, without mass produced synthetic air fresheners – which although they smell nice do the opposite of freshening the air!

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