Discovering Allergens in the Workplace

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According to the ABC News Medical Unit, many allergens and irritants may be found in the workplace. While we have some direct control of the allergens in our homes, we may have less control in our daily work environment. At home you may control what or who comes in, as well as how often ventilation systems are cleaned, filters replaced, etc. Certain professions and the variety / numbers of people in the workplace are often a factor for not so obvious allergens. Being conscious of the following allergens may lower the risk for discomfort and lead to a happier workplace.

 Problem types of dust include mites, wood dust, and food dust. Clean work areas, frequent vacuuming, and proper ventilation system maintenance may help lower problems caused for those with dust sensitivities. Other unpleasant causes may be the unseen presence of mold or mice. If it is suspected either of these could be a problem, it’s recommended that diagnosis and proper precautions be taken immediately.

Pet allergies are also a common problem, and in close or shared working conditions the exposure may be greater than one thinks. Most with pet allergies are allergic to either the dander or saliva. These may be passed unknowingly onto the skin or into the air from the clothing of the pet owner. Along the same lines, fragrances, beauty products and cleaning agents are often the issue in workplace discomfort.

Open dialogue with co-workers may help prevent these issues once they are determined. For those working with the public there is likely little to no control of these things. Employers may ask workers for voluntary compliance, but that doesn’t mean the general public will comply.

Finally, those with latex allergies need to be aware that even though they do not use latex products themselves, residue from those products may cause irritation. As an example, food handlers with latex gloves may have clean hands handling the food. But, unseen residue can cause allergic reactions, especially for those highly sensitive to latex.

Communication and willingness to compromise as needed goes a long way in keeping the workplace not only healthy, but very happy. RPM is always ready to do their part on the HVAC side to keep your commercial property as healthy, comfortable, and happy as possible. We may also be able to help you diagnose any concerns you may have with allergen issues.

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