How Long is the Short Term Workplace Exposure Limit?

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is a UK law requiring employers in all industries to prevent or reduce workers’ exposure to certain hazardous substances.

The law regulates workplace exposure limits (WELs) for around 500 hazardous substances. These are legal limits of exposure, measured in concentrations of the hazardous substances in the air (usually mg.m³), averaged over a given timeframe.

COSHH legislation requires that workers are only exposed to a certain amount of a hazardous substance in a specified period of time – the time weighted average (TWA).

What is the Short Term Workplace Exposure Limit?

The short term workplace exposure limit is 15 minutes. A short term exposure limit (STEL) is the concentration to which workers can be exposed continuously to a hazardous substance before it starts to affect their health.

What is the Long Term Workplace Exposure Limit?

The long term exposure limit (LTEL) considers an eight hour reference period. COSHH law requires that the short term exposure limit must take priority over the long term exposure limit.

Short Term vs. Long Term Exposure

The long term exposure limit is there to protect workers from concentrations of harmful substances – the sort of substances which, over an extended period of time, could result in long-term chronic health conditions.

On the other hand, the short term exposure limit is concerned with peak exposure incidents. It’s there to protect workers against immediate ill health effects, whether that’s nausea, dizziness, inflammation, or more serious conditions.

In any case, employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that every employee is not exposed to any concentration of any substance that exceeds the substance’s WELs. And if you run a school, a university or a healthcare establishment, you’ll also have to consider exposure risks for your students, patients, and other visitors.

Exposure Limits in Your Workplace

Many substances will list WEL values on their packaging. However, you must not assume that a substance that does not specify a WEL is necessarily safe to use in all environments for any period of time.

Potentially, all workplaces will make use of hazardous substances with WELs. For example, it’s common to find cleaning products in schools and offices which, if used for too long in a poorly ventilated area, can lead to a range of health problems.

But hazardous substances are so widespread in some sectors that workers may risk excess exposure as a matter of course. In healthcare, for example, employers must meet COSHH exposure regulations for a huge number of substances, including isoflurane, Entonox, formaldehyde, inhalable dust, and a wide range of hazardous chemicals too numerous to mention.

Meeting Your COSHH Obligations

All workers must pay attention to the WELs for every substance they work with. At the same time, you must supply your staff with adequate PPE for each task they undertake, while maintaining an adequate air ventilation system for your workplace.

Yet even with these measures in place, your workforce may still get exposed to dangerous concentrations of hazardous substances. Faulty equipment can lead to a leak. PPE can get damaged or compromised. And a small accident can lead to a substantial chemical spill, the effects of which could last long after the spill’s been cleaned.

But we can help you fulfil your COSHH obligations wherever your staff are exposed to hazardous substances with our bespoke workplace exposure monitoring report. Our comprehensive reports include clear and actionable recommendations, so you’ll know exactly what you’ll have to do to protect your staff.

We specialise in healthcare settings, where we can employ both continuous monitoring and personal sampling processes for operating theatres, endoscopy suites, pathology laboratories, maternity wards, fracture clinics, and more.

Head here to learn more about out workplace exposure monitoring services, and find out how we can help in your department.

Long-Term Effects of Chlorine Exposure

The chemical element chlorine has been used for years in sanitation, disinfection, and antisepsis.

What is Chlorine Used For?

In the form of hypochlorous acid, chlorine is used to kill bacteria in water treatment plants and public swimming pools. Chlorine is also a major element of disinfectants and bleach, so it can be found in many domestic, commercial, and industrial cleaning products.

But chlorine has also historically been used as a weapon. It was used on the battlefields of the First World War, and more recently as a chemical weapon in Iraq and Syria.

Despite its ubiquity and its life-saving role in sanitation and disinfection, chlorine is a highly toxic gas. Short-term exposure can cause certain health hazards. Long-term exposure can be lethal.

Short-Term Effects of Chlorine Exposure

You might have noticed the short-term effects of chlorine exposure from spending a little too long in a swimming pool: Blurred vision, a burning sensation in the eyes, throat or skin, a shortness of breath, chest pains, and nausea.

If chlorine can cause this much damage in the short-term, then imagine what it can do in the long-term.

The Long-Term Effects of Chlorine Exposure

The long-term effects of chlorine exposure can include the development of chronic lung problems, including bronchitis and asthma, and even some cancers.

Even a short, single exposure to high concentrations of chlorine can cause immediate lung damage, which could be irreparable. Breathing high concentrates can also lead to a build-up of fluid in the lungs, which can result in suffocation and death.

Who’s At Risk of Long-Term Chlorine Exposure?

Anyone who works in any industry that makes use of chlorine is at risk of exposure. This might include:

  • Commercial cleaning staff, and cleaning personnel in hospitals, schools, universities, and other public buildings.
  • Anyone who works around or near a swimming pool, including health club staff, lifeguards, and professional swimmers and their coaches.
  • Sewage treatment and water purification workers.
  • Workers involved in plastics manufacturing and bleach, chemical and pharmaceutical production.

How to Manage the Risks of Long-Term Chlorine Exposure

  • Learn to spot the signs. Chlorine has a distinctive, highly unpleasant smell, so you should have no trouble detecting a leak. But you should also be able to recognise the symptoms of both short- and long-term exposure, in both yourself and your colleagues.
  • Use adequate PPE. Ensure that anybody who handles chlorine in your workplace has adequate personal protection equipment (PPE) for the task at hand. Read our guide to choosing the right PPE.
  • Follow the procedures. Abide by the COSHH guidelines when it comes to short- and long-term exposure limits. And have a thorough cleaning and containment procedure in place in the event of a leak or spillage.
  • Keep things ventilated. A good air filtration system can cycle the air in a room, removing any potentially harmful gases. This can help reduce the risks of exposure from cleaning products, for example.

Chlorine Exposure Monitoring Services

For total peace of mind that you’re doing all you can to protect your staff from exposure to chemicals, we offer workplace exposure monitoring services.

We’ll employ both continuous monitoring and personal sampling processes to help you understand the exposure risks in your workplace. We’ll then produce a comprehensive report including clear and actionable recommendations, so you’ll know exactly what to do to safeguard your staff.

Head here to learn more about our workplace exposure monitoring services, and find out how we can help you manage the risks of chlorine in your organisation.


Operating Theatre Temperature & Humidity Guidelines For Patient Safety and Infection Control

Good air ventilation is an integral part of effective infection control in operating theatres. But while it’s important to keep the air circulated, it’s equally important to ensure the air is at the optimum temperature and humidity.

Why is Temperature and Humidity Important in an Operating Theatre?

For temperature and humidity levels to be right, there are three crucial needs:

  1. To avoid humidity levels that could cause risks with the anaesthetic.
  2. To ensure that operating theatre staff can work comfortably and efficiently.
  3. Perhaps most crucially, to ensure the patient’s not so cold that they risk developing hypothermia or cardiac arrhythmia, but not so hot that they experience heat stress.

Both staff and patients will potentially spend many hours in an operating theatre environment. And while in the theatre, the staff will be undertaking intensive, high-pressure work, while the patient will be in a profoundly vulnerable state. So the temperature and humidity in an operating theatre needs to be just right.

Operating Theatre Temperature and Humidity Guidelines UK

The Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP) and The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have both issued guidelines for temperature and humidity control in operating theatres.

To best suit the needs of both staff and patient:

  • The temperature should be maintained between 18 and 25°C, varied within this range depending on the patient and the procedure.
  • The relative humidity should be 50%, to allow for tolerable working conditions for the long-term with no risk of anaesthetic issues.

NICE also outlines that theatre staff should measure a patient’s temperature every 30 minute during their operation, and that their temperature should be at least 21°C at any times when they’re not covered.

Other Safety Measures in Operating Theatres

Maintaining the correct temperature and humidity in the operating theatre is essential for both staff and patient safety.

But this is just one aspect of a safe and productive operating theatre. In addition to temperature control, the following measures are crucial:

Zoning for Infection Control

The theatre complex should be zoned based on cleanliness levels, the presence of microorganisms, and the types of procedures carried out. There must also be separate areas for all the key processes – preparation, disposal, scrubbing, gowning, and equipment storage, sterilisation, and washing.

Operating Theatre PPE

Staff should use the appropriate PPE for the procedure. They should apply their PPE in the correct order, and in a dedicated area, while thoroughly washing their hands at key points throughout the procedure. Also, any PPE they use should be properly fitted to ensure its effectiveness.

Equipment Cleaning

Any reusable surgical equipment should be thoroughly cleaned before use. And once processed, all surgical equipment must be correctly stored in a sterile environment, and not handled until it’s ready to be used on patients. Absorbent mats can also be used to capture fluids during procedures for quick disposal afterwards.

For more, you can read our complete guide to cleaning for infection control in operating theatres.

Support For Infection Control in Operating Theatres

It’s up to your hospital management and your theatre teams to maintain the optimum temperature and humidity settings in your theatre environments. But we can help you with many other aspects of infection prevention and control, helping you to meet all relevant standards while keeping your staff and patients as safe and as comfortable as possible.

Our services include:

  • Air purification consultations and solutions.
  • Face-fit testing.
  • Fluid management and washroom hygiene solutions.
  • Comprehensive infection control solutions, such as cleaning equipment and sanitising chemicals.

Get in touch to talk to our friendly team of expert infection control consultants and we’ll help you find a solution that works for you.


Health & Safety in Operating Theatres – Hazards & Precautions

Just like any other working environment, working in an operating theatre comes with numerous occupational hazards. However, in an operating theatre, these hazards can mean life or death. Even the smallest accident could seriously jeopardise the patient’s safety.

The question of health & safety in operating theatres is a deep one. Organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) regularly produce extensive documents advising on theatre safety on both an operational and a managerial level.

So in this post, we’ll provide an essential overview of the sort of hazards theatre staff may face, and the sort of precautions that could help them manage risk. Please note that in this post we’ll focus on staff safety rather than patient safety.

Also be sure to check out our introduction to improving quality and efficiency in operating theatres.

Common Hazards in Operating Theatres

Speaking as broadly as possible, we might categorise the common hazards staff face in operating theatres as follows:

  • Accidents, including slips, trips, and falls.
  • Exposure to hazardous substances.
  • Contamination and infection.

Let’s look at each of these hazards in turn, along with some of the precautions that could help prevent accidents.

Accidents in Operating Theatres – Slips, Trips and Falls

Just like in any other workplace, operating theatre staff can slip on spilled fluids, or trip and fall on a loose wire or a misplaced bit of equipment.

One of the many recommendations made in the NHS Productive Operating Theatre strategy concerns the layout of operating theatres. They advise removing any non-essential items from the area, and assigning each object a set place in the room.

These recommendations are primarily in place to ensure operational efficiency. If everyone knows where everything is, then operations can proceed with fewer interruptions.

But a well-ordered operating theatre is also a much safer operating theatre. If there are no non-essential items in the area, and if everything is in its right place, then in theory there’ll be no obstacles for theatre staff to trip over as they carry out their work.

The Importance of Good Theatre Hygiene

The guidelines also recommend regularly cleaning and maintaining the operating theatre environment. This is mainly for patient safety, to reduce the risks of infection. But it can also contribute to staff safety. Promptly cleaning any fluids spilled on the floor makes it less likely that anyone will slip and fall.

The right equipment can make a huge difference here. For example, non-drip absorbent operating theatre floor mats can soak up any spilled fluids before they become a health and safety hazard. Then, after the operation, they can simply be picked up, discarded and replaced. This will reduce the turnaround time between operations while also removing the need to mop, so staff won’t have to worry about wet and slippery surfaces.

Exposure to Hazardous Substances

Operating theatre procedures make use of a number of substances which can pose a health hazard  if staff are exposed to them for long periods.

A key culprit in the operating theatre is Isoflurane, which anaesthetists use to maintain a state of general anaesthesia. If inhaled in its vapor form, Isoflurane can cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. But long-term exposure can lead to chronic health conditions, including renal, hepatic, and reproductive disorders.

Like all potentially hazardous substances, so long as it’s properly stored, and so long as your equipment is properly maintained, then Isoflurane should pose no problems. But as the substance is so volatile, even the smallest spillage or leak poses a health hazard.

Prevention, and the Cure

Another key recommendation in the NHS Productive Operating Theatre strategy is to stay on top of your equipment maintenance. Again, this is primarily to ensure patient safety, as you cannot depend on faulty equipment to do the job you need it to do. But it’s also to ensure staff safety, to ensure that, for example, any leaks are fixed before they pose a problem.

Wearing adequate PPE when handling or cleaning substances will also help you manage this hazard. But for total peace of mind, get a workplace exposure monitoring report for any area of your hospital where staff are exposed to hazardous substances.

A comprehensive report will include clear and actionable recommendations, so you’ll know exactly where the risks lie and exactly what to do to protect your staff.

Contamination and Infection in Operating Theatres

Infection control measures in operating theatres put the patient’s needs first, as surgical site infections (SSIs) account for around 20% of all hospital-acquired infections.

But of course, any measure that protects patients from infection will also protect staff from infection.

Operating theatres must be aseptic, highly-sterile, and restricted environments. Achieving this requires good air ventilation, strategic zoning, and numerous infection control precautions.

You can read our full guide to cleaning for infection prevention and control in operating theatres here.

PPE also plays a huge part in protecting both staff and patient from infection. It’s not just a question of selecting the right PPE for the task at hand. Just as important is applying and removing the PPE in the correct order.

Health and Safety in Operating Theatres – Essential Support, Solutions, and Guidance

We offer many services and solutions that can help you stay on top of health and safety in the operating theatre.

Our services include:

  • Air purification
  • Face-fit testing for PPE effectiveness
  • Workplace exposure monitoring services
  • Washroom hygiene solutions
  • Fluid management solutions, including absorbent floor mats
  • Cleaning equipment, disposal containers, and sanitising chemicals

Our experts are always on-hand to discuss your needs. So if you’d like some guidance health and safety in operating theatres, get in touch to talk to an expert today.


Do I Need an Asbestos Air Quality Test? A Complete Guide

According to a recent BBC enquiry, over 90% of NHS trusts report that they have hospitals containing asbestos.

Though the NHS claims that their strict regulations ensure that any asbestos in their buildings is safely contained, this should act as a wake-up call. Not just for healthcare settings, but for schools, universities, offices, and other workplaces. Because asbestos is potentially lethal, and it’s a lot more common than you might realise.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a silicate mineral composed of long and thin fibrous crystals. Each crystal fibre contains microscopic “fibrils”. If the asbestos is struck, rubbed, or cut, or if the material deteriorates, these microscopic fibrils can be released into the atmosphere.

Why is Asbestos Dangerous?

Inhaling asbestos fibres can lead to numerous lung conditions, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. It can also lead to long-term inflammation and scarring of the lungs, a condition named after the material itself: Asbestosis.

What Buildings Contain Asbestos?

Though we now recognise asbestos as a serious health and safety hazard, unfortunately asbestos was a common building material for decades. Asbestos is solid, stable, a good electrical insulator and highly fire resistant. It wasn’t until the 1970s that we became aware of the health risks. As such, many modern buildings constructed before the 1980s are very likely to contain asbestos as part of their structure.

What is an Asbestos Air Quality Test?

An asbestos air quality test will measure the levels of asbestos fibres in the air. The test can involve background air monitoring to establish the base levels of airborne particles. It can also involve exposure monitoring, which involves testing areas where people are likely to gather and work to assess likely exposure levels.

Following an asbestos air quality test, you’ll receive a detailed report outlining the potential risks on your premises, which should contain some recommendations for how you can improve the air quality for everyone.

If you’d like to know more about how air quality tests work, head here to read our full guide to testing and improving air quality in hospitals, schools and workplaces.

Do I Need an Asbestos Air Quality Test?

Asbestos isn’t really used in construction anymore. But if you work in a building constructed between 1950 and 1990, then it’s very likely that your workplace contains asbestos. And if that asbestos is ever disturbed, or even if it deteriorates, then it could pose a serious health risk.

But even more recently-built workplaces should consider asbestos air quality tests. If an older building was demolished to make way for your workplace, then there may still be asbestos particles lingering in the air. In fact, any demolition in your surrounding area may have released asbestos into the air, which might have been carried by the wind to pose a risk elsewhere.

For decades, asbestos was everywhere. So for total peace of mind, all schools, healthcare settings and workplaces should consider an asbestos air quality test. Because the earlier you know about your exposure risk levels, the earlier you can act to improve the health quality for everyone.

Arrange an Air Quality Test for Your Hospital, School, or Workplace

We specialise in workplace air quality monitoring services. We can monitor your staff’s exposure levels to any potentially harmful substances in your workplace, including asbestos. This will help you to understand your risk levels so you can devise an air quality solution that works for you. Head here to learn more about our bespoke air quality monitoring services.

Air purifiers can filter many harmful particles. You can get small standalone purifiers for single rooms, as well as larger systems for larger rooms, some capable of achieving five air changes per hour. Head here to browse our range of air purifiers for a range of settings.

Best & Worst Air Quality in the UK: Towns and Cities

What are the most and least polluted towns and cities in the UK?

The World Health Organisation routinely publishes their Ambient Air Quality Database. This lists any areas in the world where fine-particle air pollution levels above 10 micrograms per cubic metre.

Breathing polluted air can make certain health conditions worse, and in serious cases can lead to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory infections.

According to the latest WHO report, 99% of the world’s population live in areas where air pollution exceeds the guideline limit of 10 micrograms per cubic metre. So what are the current best and worst towns for air quality in the UK?

Towns & Cities with the Worst Air Quality in the UK

According to the latest WHO figures, the five worst towns and cities in the UK for air pollution are:

  • Warrington
  • Bristol
  • Stanford-Le-Hope
  • Storrington
  • Swansea

It’s important to remember that air pollution levels are never constant. They can change on a daily basis. So the most polluted towns in the UK at the time of the WHO report might not be the most polluted towns by the time you read this.

Though in total, there are 42 cities across the UK where air pollution is at dangerous levels. In fact, around 97% of homes in the UK exceed the WHO guideline limits.

Towns & Cities with Best Air Quality in the UK

Not one of the 42 at-risk towns and cities in the UK is in Scotland. Cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow still experience air pollution, of course. But the concentrations of harmful pollutants in the air fall below the WHO limits.

Other areas with good air quality include:

  • Devon
  • Peak District
  • Mid Wales
  • Cornwall

What Affects Air Quality?

Many things can influence the air quality in an area, including:

  • Heavy traffic
  • Agriculture
  • Industrial activity
  • Burning fuel

Though most air pollution is caused by human activity, pollen and sea spray are also classed as potentially-harmful pollutants.

Wind direction is another major factor, and it’s partially due to the wind that air quality can change in an area on a daily basis.

You can read our full guide to harmful air pollutants, and the activity that creates them.

How to Check the Air Quality in Your Area

Use the IQ Air tool to get a real time map of air quality levels across the UK.

You can also use the Address Pollution tool, which lets you “demand action” if your home exceeds WHO air quality guidelines.

How to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home or Organisation

Local authorities and business owners are actively working to improve the air quality in their towns, cities, and organisations.

One key strategy is to introduce a speed limit for air quality. Head here to read our full guide to the link between vehicle speed and harmful emissions.

Other strategies include working with air quality consultants, and using air purifiers to improve the interior air quality in buildings like schools, universities, offices, hospitals, and private homes.

Want to improve the air quality in your organisation?

We offer bespoke air quality monitoring systems for all kinds of workplaces. We can assess the air quality of your premises and advise on a solution to help your staff and service users breathe cleaner, healthier air. We also stock a range of powerful air purifiers suitable for a range of environments, from open plan offices to operating theatres.

Get in touch to talk to one of our air purification experts today.


What is an Air Quality Consultant?

An air quality consultant assesses the air quality in hospitals, schools, warehouses, offices, and other indoor environments.

Their work will help you ensure that anybody who accesses your premises can breathe cleaner air– whether they’re employees, patients, students or customers. They’ll also help you achieve compliance with certain air quality regulations.

What Does an Air Quality Consultant Do?

An air quality consultant will begin by testing the air quality on your premises. They can test for dust, carbon, pollutants, temperature, humidity, and potentially harmful chemicals.

Head here to read our guide to how air quality consultants test air quality.

Once they’ve assessed the air quality, an air quality consultant will produce a detailed report. This report will highlight any potential causes for concern, and it’ll advise you on actions you can take to improve the air quality on your premises.

Air Quality Regulations UK

The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 is the main legislation concerning air quality in the UK. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland each have their own separate legislation.

These regulations set legally binding limits for concentrations of certain pollutants in outdoor air. They’re therefore of particular relevance for planners and local government.

The legislation that all businesses and organisations should be aware of is called Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).

Under COSHH, all employers have a legal responsibility to reduce their employees’ exposure to hazardous substances. You can read a complete guide to your legal responsibilities when it comes to air quality. But in short, you should monitor for air quality at least once every 12 months to ensure your environment falls within the recommended workplace exposure limits (WELs).

The Benefits of Air Quality Consultations

There are good reasons to work with an air quality consultant beyond achieving COSHH compliancy.

Air pollution makes people sick. It can lead to headaches, nausea, sinus congestion, shortness of breath, irritations, and coughs. It can make asthma, allergies, and other conditions worse. If you work with certain harmful chemicals, prolonged exposure can lead to serious chronic health conditions, or even death.

Cleaner air is crucial to health, happiness, and general wellbeing. So cleaner air means less illness, which means fewer sick days. Help your people breathe cleaner air and you’ll contribute to a more positive and productive environment overall.

Book an Air Quality Consultation

We offer workplace air quality monitoring services. We can monitor your staff’s exposure to any potentially harmful substances in your workplace. This will help you understand your risk levels, so you can devise an air quality solution that works for you.

We specialise in healthcare settings. We’ve helped both NHS and private healthcare settings with bespoke air quality monitoring services, from monitoring Ethyl Chloride levels in anaesthetic rooms to checking cobalt and sodium levels in boiler rooms. In addition, we’ve also carried out dust monitoring in fracture clinic plaster rooms and orthotics laboratories.

But whatever your workplace, we can carry out a bespoke air quality consultation and exposure monitoring service that’s tailored to meet your needs.

Find out more about our Workplace Exposure Monitoring Services or get in touch to talk to one of our experts.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

As well as monitoring your indoor air quality, you will need to take steps to improve it. We have a range of commercial air purification systems designed for workplaces, hospitals and schools can catch 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns – this includes viruses and bacteria as well as larger particles related to air pollution from vehicles.

Browse our commercial air purifier range fit for hospitals, healthcare setting, schools and workplaces.


What is ISO 9001 Certified? Meaning & Regulations

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) first published their ISO 9000 family of quality management systems in 1987.

What is ISO 9000?

At the core of ISO 9000 are seven quality management principles. ISO 9001 sets out a series of requirements that any organisations that wishes to met the quality standards must fulfil.

ISO Certified Meaning

If an organisation is ISO 9001 certified, it means they’ve satisfied the criteria to embed the seven quality management principles across their operations.

The seven quality management principles are as follows:

  • Customer Focus – The organisation understands current and future customer needs. They meet customer requirements while striving to exceed customer expectations.
  • Leadership – Directors and managers define the organisation’s goals and work to create unity of purpose. The organisation creates and maintains a culture in which people can work towards achieving the organisation’s objectives.
  • Engagement – Across the organisation and at all levels, people make full use of their abilities to help the organisation achieve its goals.
  • Process Approach – The organisation manages activities and related resources as a process.
  • Improvement – One of the organisation’s ongoing objectives should be to strive towards overall performance improvement.
  • Relationship management – The organisation treats all external providers, including suppliers and contractors, as interdependent. They work towards establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.

How to Become ISO 9001 Certified

The ISO does not itself certify organisations. Instead, they rely on independent certification bodies to audit organisations based on the seven quality management principles. These certification bodies also have the power to issue ISO 9001 compliance certificates.

During the certification process, the auditor will scrutinise the organisation’s various sites, functions, products, processes, and services. Following the audit, they’ll present the organisation’s directors with a list of areas for improvement. The auditor will only issue a certificate if the organisation can present a satisfactory improvement plan.

There are no degrees of ISO 9001 certification. Organisations are either certified, or they’re not. ISO 9001 certification does not last forever. The certification body will conduct a fresh audit every three years or so.

You can read a detailed explanation of what it means to be ISO 9001 certified in this resource from the ISO.

Who Needs ISO 9001 Certification?

Many seem to think that ISO 9001 certification is only for manufacturing businesses. But ISO designed the standard so that any organisation can use it, regardless of their size or sector. This includes service providers such as schools, universities and hospitals.

So what might it look like in practice for a service provider to achieve ISO 9001 certification?

As we specialise in improving certain standards in healthcare settings, let’s explore what it might mean for a healthcare provider to become ISO 9001 certified.

ISO 9001 for Healthcare

In a healthcare setting such as a hospital, an ISO 9001 auditor might consider the following:

  • The hospital works to ensure its patient’s needs are met and exceeded. But it’s also focused on meeting the needs of regulatory bodies, and any other interested parties.
  • The leadership can define the hospital’s purpose and objectives, enabling hospital managers to clearly outline responsibilities and define roles in order to help the hospital achieve its objectives.
  • The hospital can define the risks associated with its service provision, equipment, infrastructure and clinical resources, and can demonstrate its ability to manage these risks.

If you’re aiming for ISO 9001 certification in your healthcare organisation, we can help you get there.

Air Quality & Exposure Levels for ISO 9001

We offer workplace air quality monitoring consultations, with which you can monitor your staff’s exposure to any potentially harmful substances in your hospital. This will help you understand your risk levels, so you can devise an air quality solution that works for you.

This will help you demonstrate that you’re aware of the inherent risks in your organisation, and that you take a proactive approach to managing these risks. It will also help you demonstrate your commitment to ongoing improvement – another key ISO quality management principal.

We also stock an extensive range of specialist air purification systems for healthcare settings. These will enable you to significantly improve the air quality in your organisation, which will help you secure your ISO 9001 certification for the long-term. Head here to browse our range of hospital air purifiers.

What is a Hazardous and Toxic Air Pollutant?

All employers in all industries have a legal requirement to reduce their employees’ exposure to hazardous substances. This is all outlined in a piece of legislation known as Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).

COSHH covers various substances, including many hazardous and toxic air pollutants.

In this post we’ll explain what counts as a hazardous and toxic air pollutant, and explore ways you can improve the air quality on your premises.

What is a Hazardous and Toxic Air Pollutant?

A hazardous and toxic air pollutant is any pollutant which is known or suspected to be harmful to health or the environment. The source of these pollutants will vary by location and workplace. Poor air quality from vehicle use is common across the UK, while specific workplaces will have other hazardous and toxic air pollutants to monitor and reduce.

What Pollutants Do Cars and Vehicles Emit?

Emissions from vehicles are one of the most common sources of air pollution. Air pollution from cars and vehicles can lead to headaches, nausea, sinus congestion, shortness of breath, irritations, and coughs. It can make asthma, allergies, and other conditions worse. So really, any air pollutant can be potentially hazardous.

Common Air Pollutants

The government regulations concerning air quality are particularly concerned with the following air pollutants:

  • Particulate matter
  • Nitrogen Oxide
  • Ammonia
  • Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Sulphur Dioxide

We’ll discuss each of these in more detail.

What is Particulate Matter?

Anything in the air that isn’t a gas. Particulate matter is composed of a huge variety of chemical compounds and materials, some of which are toxic. As these particles are so small, they can enter the bloodstream after inhalation, ending up lodged in the heart, brain, and other organs.

Prolonged exposure to particulate matter can result in serious illness, especially among children, elderly people, and people with respiratory problems.

UK legislation classifies particulate matter according to size. They’re currently focused on particulate matter composed of particles less than 10 micrometres in diameter (PM10) along with that composed of particles less than 2.4 micrometres (PM2.5)

Some potentially hazardous particulate matter, such as pollen and sea spray, comes from natural sources. Human activity can also increase the concentration of particulate matter in the air, including wood burning, road transport, industrial processes, and manufacturing.

What are Nitrogen Oxides?

Nitrogen oxides (NOₓ) are mainly formed as a by-product of burning fossil fuels. So areas with high levels of road traffic will generally have high levels of nitrogen oxides.

In the short-term, exposure to nitrogen oxides can cause inflammation of the airwaves, which can make symptoms worse for people who suffer from respiratory infections, allergies, and heart and lung conditions.

Nitrogen oxides are also harmful for the environment, as they can change soil chemistry and upset the biodiversity in sensitive habitats.

What is Ammonia?

The majority of ammonia emissions comes from agricultural processes, including the spreading of manures, slurries and fertilisers. Waste management processes can also contribute to ammonia emissions.

When ammonia mixes with other gases in the atmosphere, such as nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide, it can form particulate matter. This particulate matter can subsist for several days, during which time it can spread over a large area. And as we saw above, particulate matter can prove immensely hazardous to public health.

What are Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compounds?

The government treats non-methane organic compounds (NMVOCs) as a group. This is because, while these compounds can differ widely at a chemical level, they all behave in a similar way in the atmosphere.

Sources of NMVOCs include:

  • Combustion, such as smoking, heating, cooking and candle burning.
  • Petrol vapours.
  • Air fresheners.
  • Cleaning products.

Outdoors, NMVOCs can react with other air pollutants to create ground-level ozone, which can trigger inflammation and asthma. Indoors, NMVOCs can react with certain chemicals to produce formaldehyde. In low concentrations, formaldehyde can cause irritation in the eyes and upper airways. But formaldehyde also happens to be a carcinogen. So in high concentrations it can lead to serious health concerns.

Certain settings can have unique air pollution risks. Hospitals, for example, have a number of hazardous and toxic air pollutants in addition to the most common pollutants caused by vehicles emissions and other sources. For example, Nitrous Oxide (Entonox), sevoflurane, chlorine and phenol are just a few hazardous air pollutants which may be found in hospitals as a result of anaesthetic medication and antiseptic solutions.

What is Sulphur Dioxide?

Sulphur dioxide is primarily produced following the combustion of coal or crude oil. It’s a corrosive, acidic gas that’s associated with asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Sulphur dioxide can also combine with nitrogen oxides and ammonia to form particulate matter. And as we saw above, particulate matter carries numerous health risks.

Finally, sulphur dioxide can combine with water vapour to form acid rain, which can devastate ecosystems including forests and freshwater habitats.

Removing Harmful and Toxic Pollutants with Air Purifiers

As we’ve seen, a huge variety of human activity can contribute to the production of hazardous and toxic air pollutants. But at the same time, there’s a lot we can do to help improve air quality.

Commercial air purification systems designed for workplaces, hospitals and schools can catch 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns – this includes viruses and bacteria as well as larger particles related to air pollution from vehicles.

Our air purifiers play an important role in minimising the risks of air pollution in wards and waiting rooms in hospitals where air pollution from vehicles breach legal limits.

Browse our air purifier range designed for hospitals and healthcare settings.

Working to Improve Air Quality in Your Organisation

Not only will organisations need to improve air quality in relation to these most common air pollutants related to traffic, workplaces will also need to identify and monitor any other substances specific to their work which may be harmful.

As we’ve discussed, hospitals have a number of potentially harmful substances that require monitoring, as do dentists and doctors surgeries. Workplaces like factories will also likely be required to monitor workplace exposure to dust or harmful chemicals.

Workplace Air Quality Consultation Services

We offer workplace air quality consultation services. We can monitor your staff’s exposure to any potentially harmful substances in your workplace. This will help you understand your risk levels, so you can devise an air quality solution that works for you. We also stock advanced air filtration systems capable of catching and killing many common hazardous and toxic air pollutants.

Whether you work in a school, an office, a workplace or a hospital, we can carry out a bespoke air quality consultation and exposure monitoring service that’s tailored to meet your needs. Find out more about our workplace exposure monitoring services.


Speed Limit for Air Quality: How Does It Work?

You may have heard about how some areas of the UK are trialling lower speed limits in a bid to improve air quality.

In September 2021, the Welsh government introduced new 50 mph zones in five locations in south and north-east Wales. National Highways have also revealed their plans for setting new 60 mph speed limits on certain short sections of their network.

But what sort of impact can a speed limit have on air quality?

In this post we’ll explore the link between speed and pollution. We’ll also discuss some ways you can help improve the air quality in your workplace – whether it’s an office, a school, or a hospital.

How Speed Affects Air Quality

The faster a vehicle travels, the more fuel it burns. And the more fuel a vehicle burns, the more emissions it creates. Emissions from a vehicle’s exhaust contain many potentially harmful pollutants. One of the more harmful pollutants found in a vehicle’s exhaust emissions is NO₂ – nitrogen dioxide. Chronic exposure to NO₂ can lead to a range of respiratory conditions.

NO₂ is also terrible for the environment. If it interacts with the water, oxygen and other chemicals in the atmosphere, it can create acid rain, which can cause immense damage to lakes, forests, and other sensitive ecosystems.

Do Lower Speed Limits Reduce Pollution?

In late 2019, National Highways published the results of a survey that demonstrated a link between speed and emissions in light vehicles. This review suggests that even dropping the speed limit from 70 mph to 60 mph could lead to an overall reduction in harmful emissions.

The Welsh government stated that, following their 50 mph speed limit trials, they’d seen a 47% reduction in air pollution in some areas.

A lower speed limit means less speeding, which means less fuel burnt, which means lower emissions. But a lower speed limit can also discourage certain driving habits. Vehicles burn the most fuel when they’re accelerating. With a lower speed limit, drivers may be less likely to aggressively accelerate to overtake other motorists. This too will have an impact on emissions.

In these trial areas across the UK, the traffic might have slowed down, but it still moves. If all vehicles move at a steady 50 or 60 mph, then it may be less likely that congestion will build up on busy roads. This is why certain “smart motorways” introduce variable speed limits – they can help prevent traffic jams. This can have a positive impact on air quality, as vehicles burn a lot of fuel when they’re idling in traffic.

How to Reduce Pollution and Improve Air Quality In Your Area

Air quality can have a significant impact on public health. This is why workplaces across the country should seek ways to improve the air quality on and around their premises. As we’ve seen, a lower speed limit can positively influence air quality. So if you can, consider introducing a low speed limit on your premises. Not only will this improve air quality, it will also improve safety conditions – particularly if you’re running a school or a hospital.

Unfortunately, it’s likely that you have very little control over the roads surrounding your premises. But you can still make a difference to the air quality inside your workplace.

We offer bespoke air quality monitoring systems for workplaces including hospitals, schools, universities and offices. We can assess the air quality of your premises and advise on a solution to help your staff and service users breathe cleaner, healthier air. We also stock a range of powerful air purifiers suitable for a range of environments, from open plan offices to operating theatres.

Want to talk about how we can help reduce air pollute and improve the air quality in your workplace? Get in touch to talk to one of our air purification experts today