There are many people who feel sick while they are in their office. In most cases, they end up catching a disease or virus from the workplace. In other scenarios they feel sick at the office and feel fine when outside. This may seem far from the truth, but office buildings can make a person sick. If you are experiencing symptoms for a while, it’s about time you ask yourself, is your office making you sick?
What Is A Sick Building Syndrome?
It may come as a surprise but there is a condition known as Sick Building Syndrome. In most cases, sickness among employees is simply a viral infection spreading at the workplace. One employee gets infected and when everyone works together, but such infections cannot be blamed on the building. If it’s not seasonal allergies and infections, then it could be Sick Building Syndrome.
So, how will you know if the condition you have is Sick Building Syndrome or not? There is a simple way to test this. If you are experiencing the symptoms within the building and not outside, then it’s Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).
There may be certain conditions within the building that is causing you to have the allergies. The best thing to do is to see a doctor. Sick Building Syndrome is not actually a disease. You may be experiencing dizziness, lethargy or even irritation in the eyes and ears. However, you may not have any disease. The most obvious sign is that you only notice the symptoms when you are at the office. There are many causes of SBS. There are quite a few tips an employer can apply to ensure the office offers a pleasant environment for all employees.
What is a Building-Related Disease?
The common culprit in building related diseases is pesticides, mold or even dust. Regardless of how efficiently the building is maintained, at times such issues can arise within the building. One cannot blame every disease or infection on the building, but rather the inevitabilities of some bacteria growth despite thorough cleanings.
There are certain viruses and infections that are seasonal. This is why it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible. If you get a checkup and the doctor is not able to trace the cause of the disease, then you have to look towards your work environment. Do keep in mind that it is not just your work building that can house an infectious virus.
The virus could also be breeding in your home. This is why it is best to cover all bases. If there is something in your home or office building that may be causing the problem, you can call for a building inspection. For this you will need to approach the HR department and explain your situation to them.
Reasons You Can Fall Sick at Work
There are quite a few reasons workers in an office can fall sick. However, it is not necessary that all employees face this issue. Some individuals have a stronger immune system and they may not face the same symptoms as you. But then again, there are quite a few steps an employer can take to ensure that the employees are comfortable. Here are a few reasons for Sick Building Syndrome:
- Dust and Smoke
A common trigger for allergies is dust and smoke. While smoke may not be a concern, dust is a common occurrence in office buildings. Individuals with asthma or any sort of allergies can face a lot of problems because of this. As soon as they enter the building and inhale dust, they may begin experiencing symptoms. The symptoms will not be consistent for all individuals. This is because not everyone has asthma or suffers from the same type of allergies.
- Substandard Air Quality
Fatigue and headache are also symptoms of SBS. A common reason for this issue is the indoor air quality. In most cases, the buildings are sealed shut and only way to get clean air within the building is through the air conditioning system. However, air conditioning systems can malfunction. This results in employees breathing poor quality air which causes headaches and fatigue.
- Anxiety and Stress
Stress and anxiety is also a common reason for fatigue and headaches at work. The first thing you should do if you experience similar symptoms is to try and relieve your stress. Once you have tried that and you still experience the symptoms, you can look around your workplace for possible reasons.
Pests normally cause infections and spread viruses. Even a single pest in the kitchen area should be reported to the right department immediately. Pests should be taken care of before they have the chance to become a bigger issue.
How to Counter Sick Building Syndrome
Sick Building Syndrome is triggered by building conditions in most cases. The air quality of the building, dust and pests are common reasons. Here are a few ways a building can be made more comfortable and safe for employees:
- Air Conditioning System Maintenance
The first possible cause that should be checked is the air conditioning system. The filters of the AC have to be cleaned to ensure that the quality of air is good. If they are not cleaned, the air conditioner will blow impure air and cause health issues.
- Pest Control
Another important consideration is to control pests in an office building. Pests are responsible for bringing in diseases and bacteria from various places. They are even responsible for spreading diseases. This is why a building should consider having pest control specialists examine the site once in a while.
- Maintaining Plants
Plants are a common sight in office buildings. While most offices have artificial plants, others have natural ones. Regardless of the type of plant a building has, they have to be maintained properly. Natural plants have to be cleaned and dead leaves removed. The artificial ones should be cleaned properly as well because they can gather dust which can exacerbate asthma.
- Install an Air Purifier This change can usually be done without the permission of your boss. A small air purifier on your desk can help you breathe the cleanest air possible, reducing your symptoms. The Luma Comfort AP170W is small enough to fit in the corner of your desk, but it has a powerful carbon profiler, HEPA filter, VOC filter, TiO2 filter, and UV light. It will remove impurities from the air as small as .03 microns and the UV light can kill certain biological contaminants. With 99% of pollutants removed from the air, you’ll be breathing better in no time at all.
Be sure to keep these points in mind if you have concerns about Sick Building Syndrome. If you are experiencing symptoms, it’s best to contact the HR department.