Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

NIOSH makes recommendations for improving IEQ

Indoor environmental quality is a term that construction employers in Connecticut are no doubt familiar with. Whether one is overseeing a building, renovation or demolition project, it's essential that the workers and building occupants be protected from dust, gases, organic vapors and other pollutants. To help employers maintain good IEQ, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has come up with a list of recommendations to follow.

For instance, employers should have controls in place to limit exposure to contaminants like the ones mentioned above. Being exposed to these can result in symptoms like headaches, fatigue, nausea and eye and throat irritation.

When possible, employers should avoid the use of high-emissions building materials altogether because exposure to them, along with exposure to dampness and mold, has been connected with asthma and asthma-like symptoms. NIOSH also emphasizes the need for communication between employers and everyone else involved in a project, including the general contractor, subcontractors, building manager and engineers. These individuals could provide input on maintaining IEQ.

Employers must also keep in mind the various federal regulations in place. OSHA, for instance, has standards on lead and asbestos exposure, and the EPA, through its Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, has established rules and regulations on asbestos in school buildings.

If workers develop a health condition because of exposure to harmful contaminants, then they may have to take time off work and receive medical treatment. Workers' compensation can cover occupational diseasesas well as workplace accidents, but employers and their insurance companies often dispute or deny these claims by stating that the worker incurred the disease elsewhere. This is one reason why claimants might want to have the assistance of an attorney throughout the process.

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