Are you seeing your employees suffering from severe health effects? Sick employees always require review of your company’s occupational health and safety protocols. Sick Building Syndrome, also known by the acronym of “SBS”, people who are confined within a particular building for a long time and exposed to various toxins found within that building. sick building syndrome is becoming more and more of a common reality as our demand for indoor computer based work increases. With all of our technological advances, it is easy to overlook a simple thing like indoor air quality. Most occupational health and safety procedures address preventing injury due to hazardous working environments. However, the quality of the air that your employees’ breath is now a modern day occupational health concern and becoming a primary concern in offices, retail stores, schools, and government buildings.
What Causes Sick Building Syndrome as an Occupational Health Hazard?
Surprisingly, the cause of the modern day occupational health hazard of sick building syndrome is largely unknown. However modern medicine is seeing a link to common toxins and those affected by sick building syndrome. One of the leading toxins people inhale in a poor indoor quality is mold. The symptoms of sick building syndrome vary from patient to patient. However, the most common symptoms of headaches and respiratory problems are in similar to the symptoms attributed to mold exposure. There are many medical and indoor air quality professionals who believe that sick building syndrome is actually from mold toxicity of “unseen mold problems“. Sick building illnesses lead to stressful and unhealthy working environment for your employees or patrons. Companies incur enormous costs of dealing with the illnesses and resolving the source of the problem.
Symptoms and Possible Risk Factors
As mentioned earlier, headache and respiratory problems are the most common symptoms. However, other signs that might indicate the presence of sick building syndrome include nausea, body pain, fatigue, chest tightness or breast soreness, blocked nose, irritation, eye irritation, throat problems, and skin irritation. All of these symptoms are listed as known reactions to mold exposure.
There are several risk factors that can result in the initiation of the disease. Following are some of the common ones.
- Decreased or increased humidity
- Increased temperature
- Poor ventilation
- The increase in tiny airborne particles such as mold and fungal spores, and chemical pollutants like ozone production from electronic equipment.
- Flash produced on Visual Display Units because of poor lighting.
- Physical and psychological factors.
What Indoor Chemicals Could Cause an Occupational Health Hazard?
Now, here comes an interesting question! Most workplaces have chemicals in the air that are harmful to health. Therefore, a prolonged exposure to those substances must be avoided. These chemicals include carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, naphthalene, radon, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene. These chemicals cause the indoor air pollution that is very harmful to human health.
Several spots within a working building serve as sources of chemical contaminants. The byproducts from garbage, building exhaust (both kitchen and bathroom), poorly located vents, and volatile organic compounds are no doubt, injurious to health.