How Sick Building Syndrome Can Affect Businesses

A healthy business needs healthy employees. That may be stating the obvious, but what isn’t always obvious is how your business affects your employees’ health. If the air quality inside your business is poor, you could unwittingly be putting your employees – and your business – at risk. Without prompt and effective mitigation, poor indoor air quality can eventually lead to the development of sick building syndrome.

What Is Sick Building Syndrome?

You may not realize it, but indoor air pollution is a serious and widespread hazard. That’s because most indoor spaces are littered with various sources of pollution. Dust, dust mites, dander, bacteria, and other biological contaminants are common. Furniture, office equipment, cleaning products, building supplies, aerosol sprays, and other items also frequently release pollutants called volatile organic compounds. These particles can easily become airborne, at which point they can enter the bloodstream after being inhaled.

When this happens in a commercial space, everyone who spends time inside can potentially be exposed. In some cases, this can lead to a condition called sick building syndrome (SBS). People who spend time inside an affected building often report feeling generally unwell for no obvious reason. Occupants tend to experience similar symptoms that resolve after leaving the area. These symptoms may include nausea, fatigue, dizziness, respiratory irritation, headaches, and more frequent or intense symptoms of asthma or allergies. The affected space may also smell unpleasant or feel uncomfortable.

Poor Indoor Air Quality Threatens Your Business

Unfortunately, sick building syndrome is not a rare phenomenon. According to the World Health Organization, signs of the condition can be found in approximately 30% of new or remodeled office buildings. When air quality is poor, a significant percentage of your workforce may be affected. Some employees may be forced to call in sick, resulting in increased absenteeism. Those who continue to work may still experience symptoms that render them less effective and less productive. Needless to say, this can have serious consequences for your business.

A survey of office workers who have experienced sick building syndrome found that the condition reduced productivity by around 20%. In combination with increased absenteeism, that could represent a potentially significant blow to your business. Employees may also be less likely to work overtime and more likely to seek out other job opportunities. In extreme cases, SBS-related illnesses can even leave you vulnerable to legal action. People who’ve become ill as a result of an unhealthy work environment have won large settlements against their employers.

Effectively Managing Airborne Pollutants

One of the most insidious things about sick building syndrome is that it’s often difficult to identify a single cause. It may not even be apparent that there’s a problem until the pollution reaches very unsafe levels. However, SBS and other pollution-related problems can often be easily prevented or mitigated by employing simple indoor air quality solutions. The key is to be as proactive as possible in creating a healthy work environment. To that end, there are a few tools that are highly effective at managing air quality in commercial buildings.

Evaluations of afflicted buildings have revealed that the most common factor contributing to SBS is inadequate ventilation. Proper ventilation helps exhaust contaminated air while ensuring a steady supply of fresh air from the outside. An HVAC technician can evaluate your business and, if necessary, recommend options for improving your ventilation. A more direct option is an air cleaner or air purifier. Using high-efficiency filters, these systems can eliminate virtually all airborne particulates. Finally, insufficient commercial HVAC maintenance can also contribute to the problem. Have your HVAC system serviced regularly to avoid comfort and air quality issues.

If you run a business on Florida’s Space Coast, make sure you’re protected against the dangers of sick building syndrome. Check out Dial Plumbing and Air Conditioning’s indoor air quality services or call (321) 341-3625 to schedule an appointment.

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