Workers Health & Safety Centre

Combatting seasonal viruses AND common indoor air pollutants

Indoor air issues include more than viruses and many pose serious threats to worker health.
Virus season is upon us, but indoor air issues include more than viruses and many pose serious threats to worker health. The good news is there are solutions.

To be specific, our indoor built environments continue to be contaminated with a growing number of harmful pollutants such as viruses including COVID, the flu as well as other respiratory pathogens, radon, mould spores, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), particulate matter, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide (CO2). Sources of these contaminants range from building materials and cleaning products to office furnishings and equipment, and even human breath. Aside from the often-serious health challenges viruses cause, the health impacts from breathing contaminated air range from irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat to headache, dizziness, fatigue and impaired cognitive function, all common symptoms of sick building syndrome.

Colder weather means the inevitable – spending more time indoors where air pollution is two to five times higher than outdoor pollution. Moreover, workers today often find themselves in closed buildings with outdated HVAC systems that recirculate polluted air.

Fortunately, increased ventilation and air filtration offer reasonable and effective safeguards against hazardous exposures — easily implemented measures employers can and should take to fulfill their general duty in health and safety law to protect worker health.

Learn how to make the case for these measures and help with their implementation.
Register for Indoor Air training today!
See details below.

Better regulations and standards

As with many hazards however, employer general duty clauses are often not enough. With this in mind, Ontario’s New Democratic Party (NDP) MPPs have submitted a private members’ bill, Bill 86 — An Act to establish an Advisory Committee to Protect Ontario’s People and Economy from Airborne Pandemics. The bill aims to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) and among other things better prepare for future airborne pandemics. If passed into law, an advisory committee composed of a broad range of constituents impacted by the pandemic plus experts will be established to consider lessons learned and make recommendations to limit transmission of airborne diseases in non-residential workplaces and public settings and improve IAQ. The committee would also consider ways to educate the public about IAQ, cover the costs of IAQ improvements made by small businesses, and ensure that personal protective equipment such as N95 filtering facepiece respirators are available during future pandemics.

Training – a first step to breathe quality air

For those prepared to move now, WHSC has developed Indoor Air training offered virtually and in-person.
This three-hour course is designed to train workers, supervisors, joint heath and safety committees and worker health and safety representatives in small workplaces to proactively recognize, assess and make recommendations to control or better yet eliminate indoor pollution sources. Considering new research and developments, this program covers hazards such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone, formaldehyde, pesticides, legionella and the virus that causes COVID-19. Participants will also discuss how existing relevant legislation and measures to combat IAQ hazards now notably also include those needed to mitigate against virus transmissions too.


Visit us online for a catalogue of all our training programs. Registration for virtual and in-person classroom training closes two weeks before each training date.

Need more information?
Contact a WHSC training services representative in your area.
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