Indoor air quality (IAQ) is the biggest issue currently facing workers, according to a membership survey from the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).
The association represents nearly 12,500 professionals in the field of occupational and environmental health and safety.
IAQ has hit the news frequently in the last several years over growing concerns about what is known as "sick building syndrome."
Poor IAQ results from culprits such as mold-filled ductwork or formaldehyde-treated carpet.
In some cases, entire buildings have been shut down for cleaning and renovation.
More than 40 percent of members surveyed named IAQ the first or second most important health issue for workers, according to the AIHA study.
Members noted several other concerns for the nation''s workforce.
These include workplace reproductive hazards, environmental lead, and the creation and implementation of an ergonomics standard.
The survey revealed that AIHA members were experiencing a variety of responsibilities in their jobs.
When asked what areas are they spending the most time, nearly 46 percent of respondents said they were spending close to a majority of their time on non-IH specific responsibilities.
Respondents said they were spending 52.2 percent of their time on IH, 22.7 percent on safety, 11.7 percent on environmental and 11.4 percent on other matters.
AIHA members also believe that changes underway at OSHA will have significant impact on working conditions in the next several years, according to the survey.
Earlier this year, the Association of Research Inc. (ARI), an independent firm, mailed 1,500 surveys to randomly-selected AIHA members.
ARI received 745 completed surveys for a return rate of 49.7 percent.
Respondents were asked a variety of questions about current employment, education and general demographic background.
A complete copy of the membership survey will be available on the AIHA'' Web site at www.aiha.org, beginning Friday.
by Virginia Sutcliffe