It is well recognized that cool, clean uncontaminated air in industrial work environments is important in maintaining a safe and healthy workforce. Modern industrial processes use an increasing number of chemical compounds and substances, many of which are highly toxic. The use of such materials may result in particulates (dusts), gases, vapours, and/or mists in the workplace air in concentrations that exceed safe levels. As well, heat stress from hot processes can result in unsafe or uncomfortable work environments. EHS occupational hygienists can design effective, ventilation solutions to these problems where worker protection is needed. Ventilation can also serve to control odour, moisture, and other undesirable environmental conditions.
Ventilation systems used in industrial plants are of two generic types – supply and exhaust. Supply systems usually supply conditioned air to a workspace while exhaust systems are used to remove the contaminants generated by an operation in order to maintain a healthful work environment. A complete ventilation program must consider both the supply and the exhaust systems. If the overall quantity of air exhausted from a work space is greater than the quantity of outdoor air supplied to the space, the plant interior will experience a lower pressure than the local atmospheric pressure. This may result in employee discomfort in winter months; exhaust system performance degradation; and higher heating and cooling costs.