How to Prevent Allergies at Work?
Allergies at work
affect us the same way they do at home. A nationwide survey in the United States, reveals that 50% of homes have at least 6 detectable allergens present. Allergies at work affect about 19 million workers in America annually. Symptoms like allergic rhinitis, nasal congestion, sneezing, head ache can make it difficult to focus at work.
If your symptoms appear within a certain time period of your arriving to work and disappear after you leave your workspace, you can most definitely put the blame on your work space. The environmental allergens in your work space is wreaking a havoc on you.
What causes Allergies at work?
- Allergens are most commonly found to be air borne, be it at home or office. The allergens at workspace are mostly from office equipments and chemicals like adhesives, copy machine agents, cleaning solutions, carpets, furniture and upholstery. If you work in a manufacturing facility or factory, then chances of such allergies are doubled from the additional exposure to chemicals. These things can bring you in contact with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can trigger what is known as chemical sensitivity.
- Moisture and dampness may have aided the proliferation of molds and mildew. Poor ventilation and air filtration makes it more conducive for the mold spores to become active.When the mold spores get air borne in a closed environment they can bring about an onslaught of reactions. Ill functioning air ventilation system and lack of proper hygiene adds to the misery.
- People at your workspace can expose you to allergens like fragrances, pet dander etc.
- Allergens can invade your workspace from surrounding spaces too. Car exhauasts, building exhausts, plumbing vents from bathroom and kitchen, concrete residue from neighboring construction site can get into the work space through ill located vents and openings.
Steps to prevent allergies at work
1. Identify the allergen:
The first step would be to go to an allergist and identify the allergens affecting you. The allergist can help single out the irritants at your workspace affecting you. Once you know the allergen affecting you, you are better equipped in combating it.
2. Bring it up with your manager :
It is important to bring your allergies to the notice of your employer.
- He should take steps to fix the factors causing allergies.
- Old and moldy carpet could be replaced. This will help to get rid of dustmites if any.
- You can ask the doors and windows to be kept closed. Installing a HEPA enabled air filtration system would help to keep the air allergen free.
- Regular cleaning of ducts and vents is of great importance to keep the environment allergen free.
- Keep indoor potted plants (hypoallergenic ones) nearby. They help to remove VOCs from the air.
3. Speak to your colleague:
If its the pet danders from your colleague’s garments or her fragrance giving a sneeze attack or headache, speak out to her. You could change your seat to get relief.
Allergies at work could be unproductive and can negatively impact your efficiency. It is important that you take steps immediately to resolve the problems.