Mold in the workplace: All you need to know
Mold in the workplace can lead to grave health issues affecting individual employees and company operations. Here's all you need to know about the issue.
Apart from a scientist studying mold, nobody wants to spend their days in a moldy work environment. However, mold is a natural part of the environment. The fungi are widespread, especially now that companies are reopening and resuming normal operations.
Not everyone is back to work, and most are still working remotely from homes. But if you spend your working hours at the office every day, you must know how to protect yourself from mold exposure. You also need to know the right remedy strategies and whether you can sue your employer.
Basic information about mold
Mold exists naturally in the environment. It is available anywhere – whether inside or outside the building – at any time of the year. The United States alone is home to more than 1,000 species out of the 100,000 that exist worldwide.
Outdoors, mold break down organic matter such as dead animals, toppled trees, and fallen trees. Without the crucial organism, there would be no medicines like penicillin or food products like cheese.
But inside the building, mold shouldn't be there. The fungus may cause problems when it begins eating away any material. The infestation may change the smell, look, and structural integrity of wood-framed buildings.
They can enter the building and flourish anywhere with organic material and some moisture. This may be a result of humidity, rain drips, flooding, condensation, and pipe leaks.
Can mold in a building make you sick?
As public awareness of the health effects of mold exposure increase, more employees are becoming more concerned. Exposure to office mold and dampness can lead to grave health consequences. It's associated with the following conditions:
Mold can lead to allergies, and you'll know that you're exposed if you experience irritation on your nose, throat, or mouth. Other signs include nasal stiffness, red, watery eyes, continuous sneezing, and runny nose.
The risk is higher for employees who are already allergic. This harmful fungus can lead to asthma-related symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
This is a form of lung inflammation common in individuals who experience a sensitive immune system after inhaling organic dust. One might mistake the symptoms for pneumonia, but antibiotics cannot treat it.
People with immune system sensitization yet are constantly exposed to mold in the workplace risk persistent inflammation. This could lead to permanent lung damage in the long run.
Patients with this lung disease develop inflammation to respond to exposure to irritating or sensitizing substances. In moldy environments, asthma patients may experience chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
Other symptoms include respiratory infections and bronchitis.
Reporting mold at the workplace
Whenever you see mold at the office or experience any mold exposure symptoms, ensure you report to the appropriate office before the problem becomes a bigger one. Here are the appropriate approaches to report mold at the workplace:
Immediately you realize that mold exists within the workstation; begin with advising your manager immediately. Use a communication channel that allows you to keep a record of the activity. Emails are just fine.
When communicating, ensure you provide adequate, accurate information. State the first time you noticed that there's mold in the office. Also, accurately identify the spot you first noticed and how big the affected area was.
You must give exact details about the location's environment, like signs of water damage or availability of moisture. Note crucial indicators like condensed liquids on surfaces, leaking pipes, structural damage on ceilings. Also, make sure you check for dark stains or musty smells from air conditioners or vents.
Remind your employer or supervisor of recent moisture or water incidence, if any. This includes flooding, wet furnishings, or a leaking roof. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends thorough cleaning and drying for these wet materials 20-48 hours after the incident.
If you don't get an email response to your request, the next step would be to visit the responsible authority in-person. Tell them about the mold issue and that you had communicated it earlier via email. If they fail to provide a practical solution, contact a higher ranking officer in the company.
After exhausting all the available opportunities to sort out the mold problem to no avail, it will be time to find a solution outside the company. The next step would be to contact or visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) office in your location.
No matter what step you reach, the main goal is to ensure your employer fixes the affected area and handles the source problems. They must seal the broken pipes, repair leaks, enhance ventilating, and set the siding, windows, or roofing.
As you follow these steps, don't forget to seek a medical checkup after mold exposure. This way, you can check your health and know whether you have any related health concerns.
Can you sue your employer?
Yes, you can.
Lawsuits resulting from mold exposure and "sick building syndrome" are filed every day, and verdicts worth millions of dollars have been issued. By law, employers are supposed to ensure a safe and protected working environment for employees.
This means they must do the following:
- Check for any form of dampness in the building
- Install reliable HVAC systems to regulate indoor humidity
- Respond to any health or safety concerns that employees may report
- Create the right strategy for recording and responding to complaints relating to air quality.
- Create a response plan for the right remedial action
- Confirm that the applied remedy is successful
If they fail to meet the above requirements, you can sue your employer for a legal remedy. Fortunately, most employers act fast and hire reliable experts to ensure normal business operations during mold removal.
You're in safe hands
If you are looking for a reliable agency to handle mold in your working environment, then you're home. AdvantaClean Mold Remediation and Mold Testing is available around the clock to sort out the issue.
Don't' wait till it's too late. Contact us today via (888) 926-4830 for more information on mold prevention or schedule a free consultation.