Maintaining good indoor environmental quality is a must for construction employers in Texas and across the U.S., and for this reason, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has provided some recommendations. They are based on the findings of NIOSH investigators during their health hazard evaluations of several work sites.
One major step toward better IEQ is the reduction of dust exposure, especially during building and renovation projects. Workers and building occupants can also be exposed to organic vapors, gases and microbiological contaminants, all of which can harm their health. For example, those exposed may report symptoms like headaches, congestion, dizziness, and irritation of the eye, nose and throat.
High-emissions building materials, a damp environment and the presence of mold can threaten workers’ and occupants’ health, even leading to asthma-like symptoms. The important thing is for employers to have controls in place that limit exposure and to make everyone involved in the project, including the sub-contractors, building manager and engineers, aware of this danger of exposure.
NIOSH reminds employers that there are federal regulations regarding exposure to certain pollutants. For example, OSHA has standards for lead and asbestos, and the EPA’s Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act regulates asbestos exposure during the renovation and demolition of school buildings in particular. ASHRAE provides relevant best practices for HVAC work.
Workers who are exposed to harmful chemicals may receive workers’ compensation benefits in many cases. It often happens that they are injured because employers do not maintain high workplace safety standards; however, to be eligible for benefits, one does not need to prove anyone’s negligence. Employers do have the right to deny payment if they show that victims themselves are to blame for their own injuries, so it may be wise to hire an attorney before filing.