Environmental hazards have a way of affecting the way you think and even your health. Although you might be most concerned about your living space, your workspace also deserves careful consideration. You may need to conduct a detailed analysis, especially if you’re already encountering symptoms. With these tips, you can discover the common health risks presented by workspaces, both office and industrial.
Sick Building Syndrome
Sick Building Syndrome is not a particularly new concept, but it’s something worth keeping in mind when you’re working in spaces built in the last 70 years. In essence, Sick Building Syndrome describes a pattern of health problems for the people who live and work in the space, tied to the construction of the building itself. It’s kind of like chronic illnesses and health concerns that people might develop if they live in an area where the water or soil is contaminated. In this case, it’s the construction, layout, and function of the building that triggers issues for the people inside it.
Signs and Symptoms
Environmental exposure to contaminants or irritants is common enough that you might not even think about it. But there’s a difference between an occasional issue and one that seems to come up all the time. People who are getting sick at their place of work often experience the following:
- Colds that never seem to go away
- Chronic allergies that get better with time away from work
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Exhaustion or inability to focus
- The quick spread of communicable diseases
- Unfortunately, these symptoms are sufficiently mainstream that people may not realize they are tied to the workspace. But just as you would clean up your home if you suspect a problem, you may have to inspect your workspace in the same ways.
If you have been paying attention to anything that has happened in 2020, you know that sanitation can be a significant factor in your health at home and work. The recent pandemic has made a lot of people rethink their sanitation strategies, particularly related to diseases that spread by contact, droplets or aerosols. Protecting yourself from common conditions involves more than the extra clean-up tasks you do to prevent COVID-19, however. After all, you can contract colds, influenza and even food poisoning at your workplace. If you find that you spend half the year with a sniffle at work, you know that increased sanitation is something you’ll need to keep.
Improvements in modern construction techniques have solved problems while simultaneously creating others. For example, changes in the ways that people envision the building envelope have greatly improved energy efficiency by controlling the airflow. Unfortunately, this presumes that every system has an ideal ventilation system, and that people will use it regularly. In a building that is tightly sealed, ventilation makes the difference between safe spaces to work and harmful off-gassing of VOCs. This is as much a concern of behavior as it is a factor of the equipment. In some cases, increasing the filtration minimizes the harm. In other cases, people have to convince themselves to use the ventilation in the first place.
Chemicals and VOCs
Sometimes, certain features of the building or activities inside it can trigger a lot of these health problems. Many products that people use at home or work contain volatile organic compounds. These VOCs can release contaminants into the air over time. Some of them are relatively harmless, but others are not. For example, if a warehouse cleaning crew is using cleaning products or solvents that are meant to be used outside or with proper ventilation, there may be problems when they use them inside with the doors closed. In many cases, a funky smell is an indicator that you need to increase the ventilation. However, you can’t guarantee that you will know a toxin by scent. After all, carbon monoxide is deadly but also odorless.
Getting work done means ensuring that your workspace isn’t causing health concerns. With these tips, you’ll know if you have a problem. To find out about the benefits of expert contractor licensing exam preparation, visit CSLS today!