Keeping your employees and yourself safe from the haze

The visibility-impairing smoky haze has descended on Malaysia and people everywhere are feeling its effects. Schools may close, depending on the situation, but workplaces are still going strong, so here are some tips for surviving the hazy days!

If you are an employer:

Keep an eye on the Air Pollution Index (API) ratings and on employees who have existing heart and respiratory ailments: When API levels go above 100, those employees would be most at risk. If they work outdoors, some official guidelines recommend that they be deployed to work indoors until the ratings go back down. At API > 200, it is recommended that all outdoor work cease and employees go indoors, even if they have not experienced any previous heart or respiratory problems.

If you are an employee:

Ask your supervisor if you can stay indoors. Once indoors, keep all doors and windows firmly shut so your exposure to the haze is kept minimal.

If you canít stay indoors, make sure you are wearing a N95 mask! N95 masks are reportedly efficient against fine particles that are 0.1 Ė 0.3 microns in size (in comparison, haze particles mainly comprise of particles that are 2.5 micrometers and below.) This mask doesnít fit childrenís faces, though, and those with facial hair may find that the mask doesnít sit against the skin properly, therefore rendering it unable to keep all the haze particles out.

N95 masks effectively keep out micro particles N95 masks effectively keep out micro particles

Drink plenty of water. Water will help to flush out the toxins absorbed into the body via your lungs and exposed skin. The Health Ministry recommends about two litres of water a day in this hazy weather, so whether you have a water dispenser at work, or you work on the go, make sure you donít get dehydrated!

As far as possible, try not to travel too much on the roads; this is where some flexibility in the workplace would come in handy. Face-to-face meetings could be replaced with video chats or even email, where necessary, as poor visibility on the roads could result in accidents.

Keep your skin clean! Antibacterial wipes or even just wet wipes will go a long way in keeping your skin free from contaminants. Keep some on your desk or in your car and use regularly on your face and hands if youíre far away from a washroom with clean water.