Spring Safety: What Are the Most Common Allergens in the Workplace?
More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year.
The severity of allergic reactions can vary a lot, as can what triggers them. When people suffer from allergies at work, it can impact their performance, and therefore the overall productivity of your company. As such, you should work to reduce the presence of allergens within your workplace.
In this guide, we'll cover the most common allergens that could be affecting your employees. Keep reading for more.
Dust is one of the most problematic allergens around. It's found in a huge range of environments and affects a lot of people. Fortunately, it's not typically too detrimental to most people's health, but your employees are still better off not being around too much of it.
One of the main causes of a buildup of dust is poor ventilation in the workplace. If you find that your employees are suffering due to too much dust, you could install HEPA filters in your HVAC system. These will help filter the dust out of the air - just make sure your HVAC system is regularly inspected and maintained to keep it efficient.
Seasonal allergies are a bigger issue at certain times of the year. Pollen can be very problematic in the spring and it affects people in a similar way to dust.
You can manage pollen with a similar strategy. HEPA filters will help remove pollen from the air making the environment more comfortable for your employees.
Keeping windows closed during high-pollen seasons can also be a good idea. If your employees work outside, they might not be able to avoid pollen altogether, so having them work inside when pollen is high can be helpful.
Mold can be an issue outdoors, but tends to be more of a problem indoors. It thrives in dark, damp areas, and can grow quickly. Initially, it might not be an issue, but after some time, it will start to trigger people's immune systems.
Most people won't have much of an issue with mold levels typically found outdoors. Indoors, however, it often becomes more concentrated.
It can lead to a range of health issues such as irritation or respiratory problems. Prolonged exposure can make things worse, so if you think there's mold growing in your workplace, you should have it dealt with as soon as possible.
Food allergens aren't uncommon, and they can vary significantly. Many people suffer from things like nut and shellfish allergies, but all kinds of foods can cause issues for some people. Most workplaces have shared break rooms and kitchen spaces, which can present an issue.
Encourage your employees to keep these spaces as clean as possible to prevent cross-contamination. Labeling food can also be helpful.
If any of your employees have especially bad allergies, you might need to consider banning certain foods. While some employees might not be too keen on this idea, it could be the difference between life and death in certain circumstances, so it's something to think about.
This may or may not be an issue for your business depending on what you do. Various industries use certain materials to manufacture products, and these can trigger allergic reactions in some people. This can include things like wood, resins, and latex.
If your employees handle such materials, you should make sure they've received proper material handling training beforehand. You're responsible for supplying PPE to anyone who needs it. Keeping environments that involve these kinds of materials well-ventilated can also help.
All workplaces should be kept clean, and one of the benefits of this is that it will help reduce the levels of most allergens. Many chemicals used for cleaning, however, can cause allergic reactions in some people.
When selecting cleaning products, look for ones with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Get fragrance-free options if you can, as these typically don't trigger allergic reactions as much.
If possible, schedule cleaning to be done outside of regular work hours. By the time people come in for work, the space will be clean and they won't be affected as much by whatever chemicals have been used.
Many workplaces don't allow pets, but some do. If you allow your employees to bring in pets, you need to consider the risk of allergic reactions among other workers. For workplaces that have employees with bad animal allergies, having no-pet policies in place may be necessary.
It's important to note, however, that pets don't have to be present for people to suffer from allergies. Anyone who has a cat or dog will likely bring dander into the workplace on their clothes. This can affect people working around them.
If this becomes an issue, you may need to talk to pet-owning employees. Encourage them to make an effort to only wear dander-free clothing to work so that they don't cause issues for their coworkers.
When thinking about allergens, this is something most people wouldn't think of. Despite that, stress can cause a range of allergic reactions such as:
- Respiratory issues
- Memory loss
Many people find work stressful, so being able to address this can be very beneficial. Not only will it reduce the risk of allergic reactions, but it could improve the mental health of your employees, which is always beneficial.
The Importance of Dealing With Most Common Allergens
Most common allergens find their way into a workplace at some point or another. Working to keep these to a minimum will help keep your employees in good health. Employee safety should always be a priority, so consider implementing different methods of reducing allergen levels.
Compliance Training Online has been helping businesses keep their employees safe since 2008. We offer a wide range of compliance training courses that will help you reduce employee hazards and improve safety. Take a look at our Compliance Course Catalogue to see the various courses we offer.
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