Opening windows is the most commonly used form of ventilation, with 60% of office workers saying it is the first thing they do if they need ‘fresh air’. However, opening office windows runs the risk of further polluting the working environment by letting in outdoor toxins, the survey found.
Given that people spend 90% of their time indoors and, on average 212 days a year at work, BESA has called on the industry, building managers and the general public to ensure proper, effective, well maintained ventilation system are operating in all offices across the UK.
Among the survey’s findings were the following.
• 68% of office workers experience lapses in concentration on a monthly or more frequent basis.
• 67% of those surveyed reported suffering from fatigue on a monthly or more frequent basis.
• 54% of office workers surveyed experience decreased productivity on a monthly or more frequent basis.
• 41% of people experience watery or irritated eyes when in the office on a monthly or more frequent basis.
Almost 40% of office workers who suffer from at least one of the symptoms listed believes poor ventilation is the main reason for the problems they experience. The BESA survey follows a report published by the Royal College of Physicians earlier this year which revealed that air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, could be linked to at least 40 000 premature deaths a year in the UK.
Paul McLaughlin, BESA chief executive, says, ‘Many people in the UK end up working more than 40 hours per week and, generally, we spend upwards of 90% of our time indoors. It is, therefore,crucial that buildings provide a healthy working environment.
‘More and more people are becoming aware of the inadequate ventilation options in their offices, as well as the negative effect this is having on their health and their productivity.’
BESA is collaborating with a number of industry bodies, including CIBSE and the Institute of Healthcare Engineering & Estate Management, to raise awareness about indoor air quality and produce detailed guidance for contractors, designers and facilities managers.