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The scorching heat of summer leads to windows and shipping doors flung wide. But what happens when the cooler weather approaches?
Without precautions, the season could bring ill employees, malfunctioning machinery and ebbing productivity.
Without the additional air from summer breezes, imbalances and defects in the ventilation, air make-up and supply systems quickly become apparent.
"A lot of industrial environments tend to operate under negative pressure because supply air needs to be conditioned or heated in the winter. Sometimes, companies take shortcuts and they put in a lot of exhaust, but they really don't want to put in that tempered air supply because it's a very significant operating cost," Shaw said.
The situation can cause safety equipment such as fume hoods and capture systems to become air-starved and lose performance.
"What you see a lot in the metalworking industries is blue haze from welding or cutting fluids," he said. "It's actually a very fine particulate." Hazards more difficult to spot are volatile organic compounds from coatings, paints, printing chemicals and solvents, which can result in headaches and even vomiting in quantities surpassing occupational exposure limits, he added.
Another problem? The right equipment—in the wrong place.
Shaw has noticed air supply systems creating cross drafts; and exhaust systems positioned too far away from operations due to obstacles such as cranes and hoists. Another pitfall is negligent maintenance and inspection of fans, dust collectors and thermal oxidizers—all leading to potential discomfort, and on the more serious end, illnesses. "Absenteeism can be the result. If you're not providing a reasonably comfortable environment then productivity is going to drop off and will affect morale as well."