Common allergens such as dust and mould are everywhere, and they can potentially trigger asthma or allergic reactions in some people. It takes careful management of the workplace to keep allergens under control, and make sure your employees have a comfortable working environment.
What allergens can cause or trigger asthma in an office environment?
- Dust mites and dust
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Perfumes and cleaners
- Industrial substances such as solvents
How can you reduce the risk of asthma in the workplace?
There are a number of measures that you can take to help lower allergen levels and the risk of an asthma attack in the workplace.
You can reduce the build-up of dust in the workplace with office cleaning. Vacuuming, dusting and cleaning all surfaces on a regular basis not only helps to ensure a germ-free environment, it also removes dust particles and prevents them from becoming suspended in the air.
Low VOC cleaning agents
Opt for low VOC cleaning products. Many common cleaning products often emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) long after they have been applied. At Jan-Pro, we use greener low VOC products in our office cleaning services.
Proper ventilation systems
Adequate ventilation is important. If your workplace has an air-conditioning system or HVAC, it needs to be kept clean and well maintained, so it continues to effectively filter out potential allergens such as strong perfumes, cleaners or solvents. If you don’t have an air conditioner, natural ventilation, such as the use of open windows and fans for example, is necessary to allow fresh air to circulate.
Mould is a common allergen. Controlling temperature and humidity levels can help prevent the growth of mould, which thrives in warm and moist environments. WorkSafe Victoria recommends a temperature of between 20 and 26C for most office spaces. Recognising when the humidity is too high can be a little more difficult. If people are noticing it’s hot and sticky, this is generally a good indication that it’s too humid.
Material safety data sheets
Identify any substances in the workplace that may be harmful and an asthma risk, and provide a MSDS to inform employees about their safe use. You can help to mitigate the risks of allergens causing asthma in the workplace through good office cleaning and maintenance practices. It’s also important to make sure that employees who do suffer from asthma have a written Asthma Action Plan on hand in the event of an attack.