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What do you know about Sick Building Syndrome?

What is Sick Building Syndrome and how can it affect your business?

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but “Sick Building Syndrome” is a real thing which you really can’t ignore. To run a healthy business, you need healthy employees and so if you have premises in a building which is not up to scratch, then your employees’ health is at risk. Air quality is a very real issue for employers and business owners as poor indoor air quality can cause respiratory problems in their staff, as well as lead to other health complaints. What’s more, poor indoor air quality is directly linked to Sick Building Syndrome, something you definitely want to avoid.

What Is Sick Building Syndrome?

Many business owners don’t know or realize how dangerous indoor air pollution can be. It becomes a widespread hazard very quickly and can be hard to contain. Indoor air pollution occurs because almost all indoor spaces are home to sources of pollution. Everything from dust to bacteria and dander to other biological contaminants can get into the air and cause significant harm to health if not dealt with. Many items you wouldn’t expect also release pollutants in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as furniture, building supplies and office equipment. The particles released can quickly become airborne and enter the bloodstream quickly once inhaled.

In professional and business environments everyone inside the building is at risk of inhaling these pollutants and this can lead to Sick Building Syndrome. It is a recognized and much studied problem which sees people who spend time in an affected building feeling unwell and not being sure why. The same people may find once they’re outside of the building their symptoms lessen and the most common symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome include:

Sickness Nausea Fatigue Respiratory irritation and complaints *Headaches

People who have existing respiratory conditions such as asthma may experience more frequent attacks or need their medication more often.

More Common Than You Think

Sick Building Syndrome is less rare than it sounds. The World Health Organization believe signs of the condition can be found is as many as 30% of remodeled or newer office buildings.

Poor air quality will quickly begin to effect more and more of your workforce if not treated. Employees may need to call in sick and absenteeism may rise, making it difficult to run the business effectively, In addition, those who are able to work may still experience the uncomfortable and disorientating symptoms which may mean they are unable to work at their full capacity. Studies into workplaces where there are signs of Sick Building Syndrome have found the condition can reduce productivity by as much as 20%, something no business can afford. Also keep in mind the danger of litigation, if an employee falls ill because of their work environment they have the right to, and many do, choose to take legal action for damages and compensation. This is especially true if employees have allergies, underlying health conditions or other issues which makes their reaction to the syndrome more severe.

Managing Airborne Pollutants in your Workplace

Managing invisible hazards is a tricky call, especially if your expertise lies in your business’ focus and not in health and hygiene. Simple indoor air quality solutions should be put in place as standard to avoid the risk of the syndrome ever developing. Curing a building of Sick Building Syndrome is a lot more difficult than preventing it from setting in, in the first place. Begin by auditing your buildings ventilation and filtration systems. Proper ventilation helps remove contaminated air from the premises and ensures fresher air is cycled through at all times. High-efficiency filters should be used in all HVAC equipment and it is important to ensure regular maintenance and cleaning of all air ducts and vents to ensure they are clean and free of any contaminants.

Sick Building Syndrome is a consideration for all business owners but a little extra maintenance, regular cleaning and a commitment to a safe and reliable heating, ventilation and air conditioning system should protect your business from any risk.

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