Is your Office Safe from Sick Building Syndrome?

Posted on 8 February, 2012 by MOVEHUT

Have you ever entered your work place and felt unwell, but when you go home the symptoms disappear? Well, you could be allergic to work – literally.

SBS symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • General health problems
  • Headaches
  • Hypersensitivity to smells
    and tastes
  • Irritation to eyes, nose,
    throat and skin
  • Nausea
  • Neurotoxin

Some people may simply dislike their workplace and so make up an illness to avoid having to come into the office, whilst others may actually have a more viable reason. Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) causes an individual to develop health complaints, simply due to the building they are in.

Causes of the mysterious syndrome are generally blamed on inadequate ventilation, mainly caused from poor heating and air conditioning units. The releases of gasses into the air (outgassing) and mould growth have also been known to contribute to SBS.

So what can offices do to prevent SBS affecting their employees? There are a number of factors that can prevent the syndrome, including:

  • Removal of any dampness, such as algae and mould
  • Pollutant source removal
  • Replace any water-stained ceiling tiles and carpets
  • Increase ventilation
  • Check and clean air filters, humidifiers and de-humidifiers
  • Regular service heating and air conditioning units

Office employers have a duty of care to investigate any complaints about SBS. They must try and establish the cause of the problem and address the issue. If the company cannot identify the problem, they may need to bring in a building services engineer can carry out a more detailed investigation.

Andrew Griffiths, Principal Policy Officer at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, stated: “Stress is a key health and safety issue which managers must address.

“The concept of sick building syndrome can act as a distraction; employers must address all factors which influence health and safety as part of their legal responsibilities under the Health and Safety Act.”

Have you ever had any of the symptoms listed above? Do you think you may have SBS? If so, talk to your colleagues first to establish if anyone else is suffering before you go the person in charge of health and safety.

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