7 Ways Employers Can Prevent Allergies at Work
Of the many conditions affecting employee health, sufferers of allergies at work often take the back seat. This is even more concerning since most of us suffer from allergies from time-to-time or frequently.
A study published in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America cites that 550 million people in the United States of America suffer from allergy every year or get an allergy attack. . It also states that the costs affecting the economy because of allergy exceeds $18 billion and rightfully so.
Let’s take into account a typical workplace. Working with different people, machines, commodities, means countless variables at play. Any of these can easily trigger an allergic reaction to affect the safety and health of your employee.
What is even worse here is the accelerated effects of an allergic reaction. While illnesses like cold, fever, take their sweet time to command a human body fully, allergies don’t. These are more sudden in their effect and show their negative impact more quickly than other illnesses.
Therefore, it is essential to prevent these office allergies from happening at all costs. To do this, proper measures in your workplace hygiene and design can cut out the allergens. Today, to advise you further on this issue, here are the ways to prevent allergies at work.
Health And Safety Of Employees At Work
A workplace's top priority should be the safety and health of employees. Inclusion and consideration of your employees' health concerns results in better productivity.
As an important piece of legislation within the workplace, the Safety and Health at Work Act 1974 ensures the wellbeing of workers.
It ensures that a safe and better workplace environment is provided for all employees, whether they are permanent ones or temporary ones. It covers everything from physical workplace wellness to basic sanitation.
Office buildings need to provide facilities for a healthy working environment. Many workplaces suffer from sick building syndrome, which causes workers to have stuffy noses or breathing problems. Therefore, employers should develop better health and safety guidelines at work and develop disease control and prevention plans.
The purpose of this article is to tell you more about the common allergies that occur at the workplace and how to identify or deal with them.
Suggested Read : Importance Of Managing Hazardous Health Risk In The Modern Workplace
Common Workplace Allergies
People with allergies know what triggers them and how to avoid them, but the situation is different when you're at work. As a result, you don't have much control over the place, ventilation, and humidity, which makes the work environment rather intolerable.
Several studies have shown that workplaces contain many allergens that affect workers, particularly mold and poor ventilation which trigger health problems and breathing problems.
Here are some of the most common workplace allergies-
Pollen, dust and molds.
Perfumes and fragrances
Wood dust and resin.
Pets and animal debris
7 Ways Employers Can Prevent Allergies at Work
Dust is one of the common culprit contributing to allergies in the workplace. Specifically, the one in question here are the dust mites. These are tiny dust particles that hide almost everywhere. It can be on carpets, furniture, cubicle walls, etc.
Exposure to it gives rise to the common dust allergy. Some of the allergy symptoms are sneezing, running nose, irritable eyes, cough, short breathes, etc.
To prevent this from happening, you must regularly dust and vacuum the office. Here, you should sanitize your office with a microfiber cloth or wet rag. Also, be sure to keep your air filtration in check at regular intervals.
2. Food allergies
There are about 32 million Americans with food allergies, and this number is not expected to decrease. About two people in every office have food allergies. So, how is it like to work in an office with food allergies?
In the beginning, it may mean not having cake at the office birthday party or any other celebration. Their lunchtime always keeps them on edge, so they usually decide to brown-bag or buy their own lunch, using caution in the cafeteria and shared office kitchen. In addition, working every day in an open office plan could cause anxiety due to airborne allergens, as well as a lack of safe, allergen-free workspaces.
If you're an employer, you can be inclusive by ensuring your employees' health in every way. To ensure your employees' health and to be inclusive, it is best to ask them if they have any food allergies.
And if they do, ask them how the work environment could be more comfortable and safe. By acknowledging their health issues, you're the one who stands out.
Report says that food allergies in children increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011.
While many work areas may allow pets, some of your employees may face difficulties due to it. This is because pet allergy is yet another issue at the workplace. It is a nuisance associated with an animal’s protein found in saliva, skin cells, or urine.
The kind of people most affected by this are the ones with asthma. Two of such allergy symptoms are sneezing and runny nose.
To correct this allergy, you can consider a strict no-pet policy at best. If this is too harsh, you can try to separate the employees with pet allergy from the animals. It means creating a different workspace or having a designated pet area in the office.
Suggested read : 7 Ways Clean Workspace Can Boost Employee Health and Performance
4. Cleaning Equipment
The cleaning equipment used in an office can also be an allergen in this matter. The harmful chemicals used in these products can trigger allergic reactions as well. Some of these use volatile organic compounds (VOC), which trouble the lungs causing respiratory problems and shortness of breath.
Common symptoms associated with this allergy include sneezing, watery eyes, congestion, rashes, asthma attacks, etc.
For handling this issue at the workplace, you must be careful in buying cleaning supplies. These include air fresheners, cleaning fluids, furniture polish, etc. Also, avoid using products with formaldehyde, ammonia, d-limonene, sodium hypochlorite, sodium lauryl sulfate.
Suggested read : Sick Building Syndrome: Is Your Office Suffering From It?
Molds are fungi that exist outdoors and indoors. When this problem makes its way indoors, it gets exposed to heat, moisture, and food, which helps it multiple. A large-scale spread of mold can also affect one’s immunity.
The symptoms attached to this allergy are itchiness, sneezing, dry or scaling skin, congestion, etc. In the most severe cases, it can make its way to one’s lungs and cause asthma attacks.
To prevent this issue from happening, one must maintain impeccable hygiene at first. Other than this, use air conditioning with board-certified allergy-friendly and asthma filter attachment, reduce the humidity levels indoors, and dampness.
An allergy to fragrances may not seem to have a severe allergic reaction, and thankfully, it doesn’t too. But, it sure is enough to make a person suffer in close proximity. Allergies to certain fragrances are a problem for many people today.
Some of the substances used in perfumes are synthetics and chemicals that irritate the skin, thus causing the allergy. The symptoms of this allergy are itchy eyes and throat, dry or scaly skin, red skin, sneezing, etc.
To prevent this allergy, one must maintain distance from these perfumes. It’s as simple as that.
Suggested read: Health and Safety Hazards in the Telecom Industry
7. Test & Medication
Last in our list is proper testing and medications. Everyone will suffer from different allergies that need various allergy shots and medications. It is important to ascertain this first-hand. After having a good knowledge of these allergies, one must proceed further with the treatment.
These were some of the ways you can prevent allergies at work for maximum employee health.
Allergies are a nuisance to all, if not regularly, but from time-to-time. These affect not only the individual infected but also the people around them. It is because sometimes people mistake allergies to be contagious in all forms, which isn’t true.
Nonetheless, it is a menace to the health, and therefore, managing allergies must be a top priority for long term employee wellness. To get things started right away, taking the steps mentioned above will serve you just fine.
Vantage Fit - A complete AI-Powered Solution for seamless implementation of your Corporate Wellness Program to nurture a healthy and engaged workforce