People often dread waking up on Monday mornings because they know they have to go back to work. Even though deadlines and uncooperative coworkers are everyday stressors, you may also want to avoid work because you’re worried about your health.
When you spend 40 hours or more per week in a single environment, it becomes crucial for that environment to consider your health. Sometimes management or the building landlord doesn’t keep up with the place, so it falls into a state that affects the workplace health of everyone inside.
Read on to learn more about how your workplace could be impacting your health. These factors are just a few ways you could become ill by attending work every day, so it’s worth discussing with management if you think you’re at risk.
1. Older Office Buildings
Unless you recently started a job with a new company, you’re likely working out of a building that’s existed for a decade or longer. There’s general maintenance that will keep the place running, but some spots are harder to keep an eye on. Specifically, mold can grow inside the walls as wear and tear cause drips and condensation.
This may be the case if you and your coworkers experience allergic reaction symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy eyes or runny noses. Mold spores can even cause breathing issues, so the building should get inspected right away if you think it’s possibly happening in your office.
2. Carpets With Allergens
People typically rush into work without thinking about what’s on the bottom of their shoes. They could unknowingly track in dirt and allergens, which settle into the carpet. Allergens can make people uncomfortable or even feel sick enough to take the day off. Daily vacuuming is one way to avoid this workplace health issue, especially during local allergy seasons in the spring and fall.
3. Moldy Ventilation System
Employees aren’t concerned with the HVAC system unless the office gets too hot or too cold. However, it should receive routine checks to prevent mold from growing in the ducts. HVAC systems use condensate or drain pans, which grow mold over time if professionals don’t clean it out. After mold grows and the HVAC unit carries those spores throughout the office, everyone can feel sick.
4. High-Rise Parking Garages
If you work in a high-rise building, you might think you’re safe because it’s newer or operates under a great management team. Still, your health could be at risk from the parking garages nearby. Even though garages are well-ventilated, they can still harbor CO2 emitted by cars as people come and go. That CO2 then rises around the office windows and HVAC units, where it slips inside and triggers long-lasting health effects like respiratory, neurological and cardiovascular damage.
5. Chemical-Based Cleaning Products
Every office requires cleaning, but the products that polish your countertops and clean your toilets could hurt you in the long run. Most name-brand cleaning products include chemicals that aren’t good for your body when you breathe them in after you finish cleaning. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can irritate your eyes and throat or cause different types of cancer if it happens for months or years on end.
To avoid this problem, many workplaces use eco-friendly janitorial services to reduce or eliminate the fumes from standard cleaning solutions. Organic or all-natural sprays and wipes improve everyone’s workplace health and the environment by keeping VOCs out of the local waterways.
6. Frequency of Cleaning
How often does your office get thoroughly cleaned? It may not be often enough. Small workspaces with just a few people may get by with wiping down door handles during flu season, but larger offices should clean more frequently. Every time people touch the screen on the copier, the fridge handles or even root around in the supply room for new pens, they’re spreading germs. The longer those germs get to live on surfaces, the more people will get sick.
You can always bring personal wipes to clean your phone or the handle of the community coffee pot, but professional janitorial cleaning every night will keep more people healthy.
7. Number of Coworkers
The number of coworkers in your office increases your chances of getting sick beyond the germs they spread on various surfaces. They all clock out and go to different homes, where their spouses, partners and kids might have come in contact with any kind of illness. They could unknowingly bring it to work with them the next day.
This is a risk everyone takes when they sign up to work outside the home. You can’t control what people do and where they go in their private lives, but it’s something to remember the next time everyone in the office gets the same stomach bug. If you’re greatly concerned about getting illnesses from other people, you can look into working for a smaller company or getting a job where you can work from home.
8. Overfilled Trash Cans
Sometimes people accidentally overfill their trash cans and forget to take them out at the end of the night. You may also have a cleaning service that misses a can or two that hide under cubicle desks. The longer trash sits around in the kitchen or conference room trash cans, they more likely it is they’ll attract pests.
Flies are attracted to rotting food and dirty disposable containers because even a bit of trash is a feast. Depending on where they were before they invade your office trashcans, they could infect employees with salmonella carried on their bodies from landing on trash and animal waste.
High-rise offices aren’t safe from pests either. Cockroaches can find their way up to the office and indirectly spread pneumonia and cholera, as well as urinary tract infections and gastroenteritis. They can also be harder to get rid of because they’ll stick around long after everyone resolves the trash issue.
Create an Action Plan
If you think your workplace could be impacting your health, think about the office environment and create an action plan. Talk with management about being proactive with workplace health by investing in green janitorial services, cleaning the office frequently and emphasizing the importance of getting rid of trash every night.
These tips can help everyone stay safe and healthy while at work, which is a crucial part of creating a thriving career.