Tuesday April 10, 2018
This past year has seen one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. Many people were missing work and everyone seemed to be sick. Many people looked around their office space with dread, wondering where the germs might be lingering and taking every co-worker’s cough or sneeze as an incoming infection. But there may be other harmful germs and bacteria lurking around that can cause different illnesses. There is even a term for this: Sick Building Syndrome. So what is that and what does it entail? Let’s explore.
What is Sick Building Syndrome?
This is a collective term from a series of symptoms with no specific diseases that are able to be diagnosed. For instance, a person may experience fatigue or headaches as well as irritation such as skin rashes and annoyance of the eyes, nose, and throat. In fact, there can be contaminants in a building which can compromise workers auto-immune system.
What contributes to worker’s illnesses?
There are many factors in a building that can contribute to health problems for workers. These can include:
- Air-borne contaminants—These are bacteria and other contaminants that are carried through the air from person to person. Many times these include pollutants in the ventilation system that can be spread around by the building’s HVAC and can often cause skin irritations or breathing difficulties.
- Germs—When an employee comes in sick, they are bringing germs with them that can infect his or her co-workers. Many people have resorted to using hand sanitizer compulsively, but this doesn’t take care of all of the issues. If you share a telephone with another employee or employees at work, then you could be picking up germs from the receiver and speaker. Think about how often you breathe on the speaker of a phone and then imagine all the germs you could be picking up if you don’t disinfect this between uses.
- Mold—Some buildings do not properly treat or clean their carpets and if moisture gets in then mold can develop. There are a variety of different mold forms, but once again these can cause serious health issues including breathing difficulties. If you already have a breathing condition such as asthma, this could be exacerbated by mold as can skin conditions such as eczema.
Employers should make sure they take the needed measures to keep their businesses clean and free of contaminants. These issues, coupled with other workplace-related illnesses, are actually costing companies billions of dollars annually in lost work time. A clean office is not just professional, but it is also conducive to having healthy employees.