How to Avoid Sick Building Syndrome in Your Business
Working in an office building has its perks. You get to interact with co-workers every day and maybe have complimentary coffee, and you have a desk of your own to get your work done. However, when you enter the building, you always get this feeling of being ill.
As soon as you step out of the building, the symptoms go away but return as you enter work the next morning. You’re not alone in this. Many people experience sick building syndrome (SBS) in the office where they work or even in their homes.
Office health is vital for efficiency and the overall well-being of employees. Here’s how to avoid sick building syndrome in your business.
Sick Building Syndrome, Explained
Employees everywhere are affected by sick building syndrome. This is a medical illness that afflicts people who are in some sort of building, usually an office building or workplace, and experience a wide variety of illness symptoms for what seems like no reason at all.
As you spend an increasing amount of time in that specific place, the symptoms seem to worsen. However, when you leave the building or go home for the day, the sickness disappears. Likely, this is because the building you work in may have poor air quality or a bad work environment.
Common symptoms of SBS include:
- Irritation of eyes, throat, or sinuses.
- Dry skin.
- Body aches.
Symptoms are typically treated individually. These are all symptoms that could be associated with the common cold, so it may be difficult to diagnose them. But if they only occur when you’re in a certain building, then it’s likely SBS. Those who have allergies or respiratory problems may experience even worse symptoms.
Sick building syndrome affects everyone differently. People may not experience any symptoms, or the symptoms might occur even after people leave the building, which could be due to long-term exposure.
Causes of Sick Building Syndrome
The primary cause of sick building syndrome is poor air quality. Many people who work in offices spend 40 or more hours per week in that building. That’s a lot of time in the office, and employees deserve a healthy environment. Exposure to poor conditions can lead to discomfort, illness, and decreased productivity.
More specifically, sick building syndrome may result from inadequate ventilation, chemical pollutants, mold, or other bacteria and pollen. These factors contribute to poor air quality and could lead to sick building syndrome in multiple employees.
How to Avoid Sick Building Syndrome
Healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) is essential for any business, no matter how big or small it may be. Finding the problem is one thing — taking steps to alleviate the problem will lead to a healthier and safer environment for you and your employees.
You can do some things to avoid sick building syndrome to make your business’s environment better for all employees.
Bacteria such as mold and mildew quickly grow in damp places. In areas that are wet or damp, clean the area. This could be a result of leaks or a too-humid environment. Set up fans to dry the area and wash away any visible mold growth, which can irritate allergies.
Ensure Proper Ventilation
Do whatever is necessary to ventilate the building. Open windows to let in fresh air and sunlight. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to circulate the air in the building. Additionally, make sure the HVAC system is properly working and schedule routine cleanings or repairs for it.
Install Air Filters or Purifiers
For businesses with equipment that releases chemicals, or a designated smoking area, you should install air filters or purifiers. Confined spaces can leave the air feeling stuffy, and pollutants will thrive in those areas. So keep it clean with air purifiers and regular changes of the filters.
Keep Your Business Healthy
Preventing sick building syndrome before it occurs is the best thing you can do for your business. If you’re noticing signs of it, like increased absenteeism or complaints of people being sick, then you should work towards better quality air in your office.
Educate and communicate with your employees about sick building syndrome and encourage them to take outside breaks or open a window once in a while. Avoiding sick building syndrome in your business will keep everyone healthy and productive at work.
Author Bio: Jane works as the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers environmental news and sustainable living tips.