Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)
Sick Building Syndrome also known as SBS is a medical condition that often comprises of a range of non-specific symptoms that occur in the workplace or building and its occupants. This syndrome causes the occupants to have a feeling of ill health which in turn causes a ripple effect starting from absenteeism to a decrease in workers productivity. As a result, SBS is fast becoming a major occupational hazard. Therefore all factors such as cause, management, preventative measures and employer responsibility need to be ascertained and looked at.
- Respiratory problems
- Flu like symptoms
- Poor concentration
- Skin irritations
- Increase in asthma attacks
- Chemical contaminants
- Biological contaminants
- Inadequate ventilation
- Electromagnetic radiation
- Psychological factors
- Poor lighting, absence of light & humidity
Prevention & control:
In order to minimize or completely prevent SBS it is important to ensure the building has good ventilation, if an air conditioning unit is used it is important to keep it well maintained at all times and ensure that ventilation standards are met, ensure intake vents are not located in areas that could be close to large amounts of traffic.
Products below should be checked for safety:
- Cleaning agents
Other contaminants that need to be watched for:
- Insect & bird droppings
- Stagnant water (this breeds bacteria, viruses & fungus)
To reduce the effects of using equipment that omit electromagnetic radiation, it is important to correctly ground wiring to reduce magnetic fields that affect your health.
High stress levels and long working hours can affect one’s ability to remain healthy and productive. Stress can weaken your immune system and psychological wellbeing.
There is a greater link of SBS in air conditioned buildings than those that are naturally ventilated.
- Carry out surveys with your employees
- Ensure all cleaning machinery is in good working order & that filters are clean
- Ensure cleaning agents are being used correctly & stored correctly
- Ensure the ventilation unit is well maintained
- Ensure the intake for the ventilation system is checked
- When possible, use natural ventilation
- Ensure staff schedule their work properly to ensure less stress
- Ensure staff take regular breaks and step away from their work space
- Encourage staff to eat healthy and get regular exercise
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