What Is Sick Workplace Syndrome?

August 11, 2015

The term sick workplace syndrome is used to describe situations in which building occupants collectively experience health related symptoms that coincide with time spent in an office building. Most of the symptoms are acute in nature and are similar to typical allergy symptoms. These symptoms are caused by poor indoor air quality. They may include: headaches, eye, nose, or throat irritation, dry cough, skin irritation, dizziness and nausea, difficulty in concentrating, and fatigue.

Many office buildings are constructed in order to promote workplace productivity by maximizing the amount of workers that can fit into one space. The combination of employees taking up as much square footage as possible and inadequate ventilation can result in a workplace environment filled with allergens and chemical pollutants.

How do you know whether or not it is sick workplace syndrome?

While many of these symptoms mimic the symptoms of regular allergies, the easiest way to attribute your symptoms to being workplace related is to monitor when they are most prevalent. If you find that your symptoms disappear over the weekend or while you are on vacation from work, it is most likely that your workplace is to blame.

What are the causes of sick workplace syndrome?

Inadequate ventilation is typically the main cause of symptoms. Allergens and chemical pollutants build up inside workplace air and have nowhere to go with insufficient ventilation. Cleaning solutions used on carpets and office furniture leave behind irritating chemical residues. Chemical gases emitted from office equipment such as photocopiers and printers can irritate respiratory tracts. Fiberglass and other airborne particles can cause eye irritation. Air-conditioning units that are constantly running may be spreading mold spores throughout your workplace air. You may also notice symptoms flaring up in certain areas inside of your office building more so than in other areas. These spaces most likely have higher concentrations of allergens and chemicals with the least amount of ventilation.

How can you combat sick workplace syndrome?

The first step in remedying unhealthy office air is to identify the problem. Purchasing an Office Air Test will help you to determine which pollutants are prevalent in your office building. Learn whether your symptoms are being caused by unsafe levels of mold, formaldehyde, or other VOCs. Once you have identified what is causing the symptoms of sick workplace syndrome, you can research ways to combat air quality pollutants to achieve cleaner workplace air.