Month: June 2021

OSHA Air Quality Standards and the Sick Building Syndrome

Comparing Cleaning, Sanitizing, Disinfecting, and Sterilizing

As an employer or building owner, indoor air quality standards according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should be taken up urgently. The consequence can be anywhere from uncomfortable working conditions to having a whole building of sick workers as your HVAC system can rapidly recirculate poor quality air, which can affect practically all of the building’s occupants.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA requires employers to follow the OSHA Health Act of 1970 and General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. In particular, employers must provide their employees a safe working environment so that there are no hazards that could cause serious safety or health issues or even death. This includes OSHA Air Quality Standards, which detail particular guidelines to ensure good indoor air quality (IAQ) in the workplace.

What is OSHA standard air quality?

While OSHA states that there is no single test to check the indoor air quality, it clearly states that it is the responsibility of the employers/building owners to check the comfort and conduciveness of the workplace. The factors that affect indoor air quality include:

  • the right temperature
  • the humidity
  • airflow
  • inspection and testing of ventilation
  • the heating and air conditioning systems are working according to the requirements for building use
OSHA Air Quality Standards and the Sick Building Syndrome

The building owners should also check for odors and leaks which can cause the growth of mold and mildew. Pest droppings are also a possible source of germs circulating in the air. These can lead to asthma, allergic reactions, skin irritation, and respiratory illness of the building’s occupants.

What is acceptable indoor air quality?

For acceptable indoor air quality, carbon dioxide levels can only be up to a maximum of 1000 parts per million (ppm). Should the level go beyond 1000 ppm, this is a possible indication of inadequate ventilation. The temperature should be between 68-75F° during the heating season and relative humidity of 60%. During the cooling season, the temperature should be between 73-79F and relative humidity of 50%.

As for employees’ exposure to chemicals, there are certain guidelines set at the federal, state, or local government units for such pollutants as formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, radon, chlorine, carcinogenic aerosols, volatile organic compounds, and other air or biological contaminants such as viruses, bacteria, and mold/mildew.

What are the 4 OSHA standards?

OSHA has 4 categories of occupational safety and health standards: General Industry, Construction, Maritime, and Agriculture. as each category has its own risks.

What is OSHA’s role in relation to indoor air pollution?

OSHA has certain guidelines for employers to ensure indoor air quality for its employees and building’s occupants. These include maintenance of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, routine cleaning of office spaces and common areas, and proper storage of cleaning and other chemicals in the workplace such as volatile organic compounds, and carcinogenic aerosols. There are also air pollutants such as asbestos and formaldehyde that can lead to long-term ill effects on one’s health.

What is the Sick Building Syndrome?

“Sick Building Syndrome” is a term to describe a situation wherein the workers and occupants of a building manifest health issues/acute diseases that can possibly be linked to or identified with the time spent in the building. These symptoms may be any of the following: headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, allergy-like symptoms, or eyes, nose, and skin irritation.

OSHA Air Quality Standards and the Sick Building Syndrome

What are the main causes of Sick Building Syndrome?

The main causes of Sick Building Syndrome (SNS) are poor indoor air quality due to poor ventilation and ill-maintained HVAC systems; lack of fresh air; the presence of mold and mildew due to leaks, exposure to hazardous environmental chemicals such as formaldehyde (in furniture and flooring) or asbestos, environmental pollutants such as in ongoing construction.
Outdoor sources such as chemical contaminants from motor vehicles and building exhaust systems are also contributing factors. HVAC systems can rapidly circulate the causes of SBS.

How do you test for Sick Building Syndrome?

There is no definite test for sick building syndrome, but this can be considered a possible outcome especially when there is an increased occurrence of symptoms or diseases among the workers and occupants of the building. These may include respiratory diseases such as asthma and allergic rhinitis, skin, eyes, nose, and throat irritation, headache, fatigue, and dizziness.

Who defined Sick Building Syndrome symptoms?

It was the World Health Organization that coined the term “Sick Building Syndrome” in 1986 after their observation wherein up to 30% of newly constructed buildings in the West suffered from poor indoor air quality.

How do you tell if your office is making you sick?

You can tell if your office is making you sick if you experience acute symptoms such as headache, dizziness, respiratory ailments, skin, nose, or eye irritation, fatigue and seem to linger or get worse the longer you stay on the premises. It may disappear upon leaving the building, but some symptoms may manifest after so. When more of your co-employees are experiencing this, it is then most likely due to sick building syndrome.

OSHA Air Quality Standards and the Sick Building Syndrome

If you believe that you have reason to believe it is sick building syndrome that you are experiencing, you can first talk to your employer about having the ventilation and the HVAC system checked. If this still fails, you can report anonymously to any of the OSHA offices nearest you.1

As an employer, this is something you do not want because it results in poor productivity, absenteeism, and low employee morale.

Also, while OSHA cannot shut down an office due to an employee’s complaint, it can recommend and the court can order you to shut down operations until you have complied with the guidelines of the OSHA’s Air Quality Standards.

Preventing Sick Building Syndrome Among Workers

Molds easily grow where there are water leaks.Credits: Wiki

1. For chemical contaminants from outdoor sources. This includes pollution from motor vehicle exhaust or building exhaust. Make sure your building’s intake vents are located in a place far from these exhausts.

OSHA Air Quality Standards and the Sick Building Syndrome

2. For chemical contaminants from indoor sources. Volatile organic compounds (VOC) primarily come from chemicals such as pesticides, cleaning agents we use. However, they also from items such as adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, copy machines, manufactured wood products. Store your chemicals away from work areas; keep copy machines farther away from work areas too!

3. Electromagnetic radiation. Prevent the emission of electromagnetic radiation from electronic devices such as microwaves, computers, and TVs by properly grounding them.

4. Humidity and temperature check – maintain the temperature and humidity at the recommended levels. During the heating season, the temperature should be between 68-75F° and relative humidity of 60%, During the cooling season, the temperature should be between 73-79F and relative humidity of 50%.

5. Proper ventilation. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers has recently revised ventilation standards to a minimum outdoor airflow rate of 15 cfm/person to improve indoor air quality.

6. Biological contaminants – Have professional cleaners deep clean, disinfect, and sanitize all surfaces from desks to floors and walls. Commercial cleaners have high-grade disinfecting chemicals and the most efficient and sophisticated cleaning equipment. This enables performing sanitizing tasks in a fast and efficient manner. Proper garbage disposal also prevents pest infestation.

Joncowest: Your Partner in Keeping with OSHA Air Quality Standards

Joncowest is your partner in keeping the indoor air quality in check to greatly improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, and make your overall office operations efficient. Aside from greatly reducing viruses, fungi, and bacteria from the surface and those deep into office carpets, we likewise check for leaks to prevent the growth of molds.

Commercial Cleaning Services

Lastly, with the proper garbage disposal, pest infestation is greatly reduced. This can be another serious problem especially when you are in the food and beverage manufacturing business.
Contact Joncowest for your commercial cleaning and sanitation needs. We help keep your indoor air quality and overall workplace health and safety in check for more productive and efficient business operations.


Bad indoor air can make you sick for a long time with things like asthma and allergies. It might hurt your heart and make your life shorter.

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can lead to health issues like asthma and allergies. It may also need help with focus and productivity.

Use air purifiers and ventilation to improve indoor air quality.

Avoid smoking indoors and minimize the use of harmful chemicals.

Keep your living space clean and maintain HVAC systems regularly.

Air quality has a substantial environmental impact which affects ecosystems and overall environmental health.

Restaurant Cleaning Services: Why Your In-House Isn’t Enough


Key message: Even with in-house cleaning staff, restaurants are being closed down by health inspectors, and it is not due to COVID. This can make you lose hundreds of dollars a day in net profit. Know why your restaurant needs more than your in-house cleaning staff.

Even with the pandemic crisis gradually getting resolved and businesses are starting to open again, it has permanently brought awareness to the public about hygiene and sanitation of commercial places. With customers becoming more cautious about eating out, they must regain confidence in your restaurant business in doing so. This is how professional restaurant cleaning services – and not just your in-house cleaning staff – can help you win customers back.


Hiring a Cleaning Service for your Restaurant

IF you think that a restaurant cleaning checklist for your in-house cleaning staff to follow is enough, think again. Health inspectors have been serving closure orders, and it is not due to COVID.


This means that in spite of in-house staff taking care of restaurant cleaning, restaurants fail to meet the stringent standards of health inspectors.


How do professionals clean restaurants?

A professional cleaning company uses the latest commercial grade chemicals and equipment to make sure that the client passes inspection standards by local authorities while keeping the safety of both the diners and the restaurant employees in mind.

This includes floor to ceiling cleaning and sanitizing, and will likewise clean the exteriors to prevent infestation. Such a commercial company knows the pain points often neglected by in-house cleaning staff and prioritizes the most critical areas to keep your restaurant the cleaning service it deserves.


  1. Professional cleaning companies are knowledgeable in terms of local laws governing health inspectors’ standards. Your in-house company cleaning staff members most likely are not. So if you want to pass sanitary inspection and avoid closure, hire the pros to do the job.
  2. Commercial cleaning companies are always updated with the best commercial-grade equipment and cleaning chemicals. For example, the EPA has released a list of chemicals approved for COVID, called the listN.
  3. Restaurant cleaning pros know the pain points in terms of the most critical places to deep clean, from food preparation surfaces, hoods, carpets and flooring, to bathrooms.
  4. As for carpet cleaning, it takes more than just a vacuum to do the job. Professional carpet cleaning involves a vacuum that has a HEPA filtration capability, application of a special type of cleaner, then rinse and dry.
  5. Restaurant cleaning professionals can clean hard-to-reach places such as ducts and exhausts, which are often left out by in-house cleaners. A dirty exhaust system is a fire hazard and can result in rejected insurance claims, aside from being a source of airborne illnesses.
  6. Companies providing restaurant cleaning service are certified professionals and know how to deep clean your restaurant at industry standards to keep health inspectors happy and the customers safe.


restaurant cleaning services california


Importance of Keeping Your Restaurant Clean


  1. Pandemic or not, unsanitary restaurant conditions are very likely to pose a health risk. Food poisoning is not far behind in a dirty restaurant, or employees reporting sick. This can cause a costly legal battle.
  2. A study revealed that 70% of the restaurant-dining public are deterred by failed inspections. Further, local health inspectors do carry out surprise visits and can easily slap a closure order. This closure report is made public.
  3. In this day and age of social media and business platforms such as Yelp, it is quite easy to share a diner’s dissatisfaction when a restaurant has poor sanitary conditions and this creates a bad impression. Negative reviews, once posted, usually stay.
  4. Any day of operation lost due to closure is worth hundreds of dollars down the (greasy) drain. In California, the average daily income of a restaurant is $1652.



What Areas in Your Restaurant Do You Want to Be Cleaned?


The Restaurant Kitchen

Commercial kitchen cleaning is very crucial to your restaurant business in order to prevent foodborne illness. It also prevents accidents when floors are clean,


  1. Clean all surfaces including countertops, food preparation areas, doors, windows, and walls. Even ceilings should be cleaned about once a month to prevent grease buildup. Germs can live up to 7 days on a porous surface such as granite and tiles, and up to 72 hours for stainless steel.
  2. Sanitizing freezer doors, handles, grill, hoods, and other food equipment including ice machines and freezers.
  3. Cleaning and sanitizing the kitchen floor. This starts with mopping but should definitely not end there. Failure to sanitize kitchen floors leads to bacteria growth and food buildup. As a result, it can cause foodborne illness and cause vermin infestation.
  4. Cleaning buckets – these buckets (which are color-coded red and green) are also part of the health inspection and inspectors do check what they contain. The green bucket is for the soap and water solution, while the red is for the sanitizing solution. These should be changed when visibly dirty, or every 4 hours.
  5. Trash – this should be emptied when full and washed at least once a week.
  6. Loading docks and dumpsters – kitchen cleaning should also include cleaning these areas regularly to prevent pest infestation, one of the most common reasons for health inspectors to order a temporary closure.




Dining Room


  1. Clean and sanitize doorknobs – restaurant cleaning staff often neglect doorknobs, when in reality, it only takes two to four hours to spread the germs from the doorknobs/handles to everywhere else in the building.
  2. Sanitize dining seats – Most in-house cleaners don’t even think of cleaning your restaurant chairs, let alone sanitizing them. One study as reported in ABC news is that 70% of restaurant chairs have 17 strains of bacteria on them. Don’t forget the high chairs!
  3. Sanitize tables – Cleaning restaurant tables with rags is not enough. They should be sanitized as well, and cleaning and sanitizing restaurant tables are where in-house cleaners most likely fall short. But what follows is a big surprise.
  4. Tables are cleaned, but the dirtiest things often neglected in restaurant cleaning are the tabletop items! Yes, the condiments and the menu card are laden with germs, with the menu being the dirtiest. Sugar has the least microorganisms among them with 2300 microorganisms, other condiments around 11000 microorganisms. But the dirtiest of all is the menu at 185,000 microorganisms – even dirtier than the toilet seat!
  5. Serving utensils – salad tongs are also a culprit and need sanitizing, same with the serving utensils on a buffet table.
  6. Floors/Carpets – The dining room floor whether carpeted or not, is also a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, dirt, debris, mold, and mildew. Furthermore, being a high-traffic area that is prone to spills, a carpeted dining area can easily be unsightly. Thus, this requires general cleaning and sanitizing about once every 3 months.


restaurant cleaning services



Cleaning bathrooms can be checked by in-house cleaners several times a day, usually, every 15 minutes, to include emptying trash bins, flushing toilets, and cleaning the partitions, faucets, and sinks.


  1. Toilet facts: the toilet seat has about 295 types of bacteria per square inch, the actual toilet bowl has about 3.2 Million bacteria per square inch. Even the flush handle is not spared – while considerably less, still has about 83 types of bacteria per square inch.
  2. Most surfaces of bathrooms have 500,000 bacterial cells on average.
  3. Faucets have about 229,000 bacterial cells per square inch. Even soap dispensers are not spared and harbor millions of bacteria, since soap dispensers are almost always not cleaned.


restaurant bathroom cleaning



FAQs in Restaurant Cleaning


How Much Does Restaurant Cleaning Cost?

On average, restaurant cleaning costs $0.18 – $0.29 per square foot or can start at $150 per hour. It may slightly vary as to the cleaning needs and the number of crew. For example, cleaning an exhaust system or range hood is an average of $150 per hour or more.


restaurant cleaning services


How much does it cost to clean a kitchen?

Commercial kitchen cleaning costs an average of 150 per hour or an average of $17-$27 per square foot. To save more, check with your cleaning service provider if a long-term kitchen cleaning program can be arranged.


What is included in commercial cleaning?

A complete commercial cleaning service program includes industry-standard floor-to-ceiling cleaning and sanitation. This includes all surfaces that are prone to be breeding grounds for germs, cleaning of equipment, ducts and vents, trash disposal, interiors, and exterior areas to prevent infestation.

Depending on your business, services provided shall be adjusted according to the recommended frequency. As an example, a restaurant cleaning service generally requires more than office cleaning because of the risk of food poisoning.

It does make you wonder that even with an in-house restaurant cleaning staff, how come restaurants still face a temporary closure order by local sanitary inspectors?


Cleaning and Sanitation services in Corona

This is why it makes a difference to let a commercial cleaning company do the dirty job when it comes to deep cleaning your restaurant. After all, it is a small price to pay compared to losing so much more per day that your restaurant business is slapped with temporary closure orders.

Why You Need to Avail of a Professional Cleaning Service 

Even with a seemingly clean restaurant, you still need to hire experts in deep cleaning services. Outsourcing it to professional cleaning service companies has several advantages:

  1. You are hiring professionals who are always up to date with local laws’ sanitation standards and thus help ensure that you pass these inspections.
  2. You need not invest in high-grade commercial cleaning equipment and chemicals – these cleaning service providers always maintain the best commercial equipment for efficient services.
  3. It helps to have a third-party inspect your restaurant and thoroughly clean it – something that your in-house may miss or be unaware of.

Choosing a Restaurant Cleaning Service

There are daily routines that inhouse staff can do minor tasks in cleaning restaurant facilities such as dusting, mopping floors, cleaning walls. However, to make sure that you maintain a clean restaurant that is compliant with local laws, it is best to hire a company with expertise in providing restaurant cleaning services.

When choosing a restaurant cleaning service, search for online reviews, check how long such a commercial cleaning company has been operational, their clientele, certification, and compliance with OSHA standards.

Joncowest has been in the commercial cleaning business since 1975 providing services to restaurants, offices, and warehouses. Request a free quote through our contact form or give us a call today! That way, you can just focus on your business with peace of mind knowing your restaurant is compliant with safety standards.