With employers reopening their doors again to employees and customers, much preparation is necessary. Because the COVID-19 virus is still around, business owners and commercial property owners should follow the CDC guidelines to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. That means their building needs to be cleaned and disinfected before anyone enters.
Thoroughly cleaning a building should not be a one-time occurrence. Proper maintenance is key to preventing the spread of any virus and sick building syndrome (SBS).
What Is Sick Building Syndrome?
SBS is a condition that is caused by being in a building or other type of enclosed space. It’s attributed to poor indoor air quality; however, the precise cause is unknown. SBS symptoms can affect your skin, respiratory, and neurological systems. Employees with existing allergies or respiratory illnesses may have severe symptoms. This is not a good combination with a deadly virus going around at the same time.
Symptoms of SBS include:
- throat irritation
- breathing difficulties
- tightness in the chest
- runny nose
- allergy-like symptoms, such as sneezing
- burning sensations in the nose
- dry, itchy skin rashes
SBS symptoms will greatly improve after leaving the affected building or workplace but then return upon re-entry into the same location.
3 Ways To Combat Sick Building Syndrome
There are steps that an employer and employee can implement to eliminate or reduce the risks of SBS.
1. Regular Cleaning and Maintenance
Schedule routine cleaning and sanitizing by a professional cleaning company. This will not only help in preventing SBS but also aids in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Employees should be tasked with keeping their own space clean by decluttering, dusting, vacuuming, and disposing of garbage. Other measures can include:
- Taking regular breaks outside of the building
- Looking away from the computer to give eyes a break
- Using cleaning supplies with low fumes and no fragrances
- Changing lights as needed
2. Improved Ventilation and Reduced Pollution
HVAC systems should be inspected regularly to ensure they are functioning properly and not contaminated. Adequate airflow is also important in all commercial buildings. Air filters should be replaced every few months. Dust builds up in the filter which leads to a lack of fresh air from circulating the building. Employees will be more prone to SBS without proper and clean airflow.
All chemicals should be properly stored and only used with proper ventilation. Purchasing furniture and carpet made with low contents of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and only painting with low-VOC paints can help prevent sick building syndrome. Also, make sure that air intakes for the building are not located where outdoor pollution from motor vehicles and manufacturing can cause contamination.
3. Excess Moisture or Dryness
Dampness in a commercial building can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. Mold can trigger allergies and cause irritation. When reopening a business it should be tested for indoor mold or fungus. Inspect for any standing water or leaks.
On the other hand, if the air in a building is too dry, that too can cause irritation. Using a humidifier can help add moisture to the air. The recommended humidity level is between 40 and 70 percent. Humidifiers help reduce the risk of infections and illness being spread around the office.
What Causes Sick Building Syndrome?
There are several possible causes of SBS. The main culprits behind SBS may include:
- buildings with poor ventilation
- high levels of dust
- tobacco smoke
- rooms with poor lighting
- outdated computer displays that cause eye strain
- the presence of mold or fungus
- chemicals in the air from cleaning products
- high levels of stress at work
- heat or low humidity
About St. Louis Cleaning & Restoration
St. Louis Cleaning & Restoration keeps homes and businesses safe by offering a variety of services, including disinfecting the premises to prevent infection from COVID-19. Other services include professional carpet cleaning, mold remediation, air duct cleaning, and water and fire damage restoration. Certified technicians are ready to assist businesses to reopen safely.