Sick building syndrome

24 October 2019

There are different types of illness that can develop in the workplace, with some more unusual for businesses to understand.

Persistent sickness issues can develop over time and create a situation that gets worse and worse. Your organisation should always look to put employee health & safety first.

This guide explains a common trend and how your business can combat it.

What is sick building syndrome?

The term for a set of symptoms individuals will only develop in a specific environment, such as indoors for desk jobs.

As a common occurrence in many offices across the UK, many have come to refer to the issue as sick building syndrome (SBS).

It can occur in various industries, regardless of the setting—generally, it’s more likely to affect employees in an office environment.

What are the causes of sick building syndrome?

The issues will typically become worse the longer an individual is in a particular environment.

The causes are varied, some of the main offenders are a mixture of unhealthy or stress-related issues. Some common sick building syndrome examples include:

  • Respiratory issues.
  • Runny or blocked nose.
  • Sore eyes.
  • Itchy, dry skin.
  • Concentration issues.

Possible causes are poor ventilation or inadequately cleaned work surfaces. This can result in a loss of or reduce productivity, potential sick days and unhappy employees.

You can try to prevent these issues from arising to maintain office morale and restore your business to full productivity.

Sick building syndrome prevention

There’s not a cure-all approach with a definite answer to the issue, but the following steps can help stop symptoms from developing:

  • Encourage employees to take regular breaks, during which time they should look to walk outside and eat a healthy lunch.
  • Open office windows to encourage better ventilation and fresh air.
  • Promote breaks away from computer screens for physical wellbeing.
  • Maintain a consistent office-cleaning schedule that relies on environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
  • Avoid using chemicals such as bleach or insecticides in an office.

In summary, for sick building syndrome solutions you can look to ensure you keep your office environment well ventilated and clean.

Preventative methods can cost money to implement, but in the long-term, they can stop major productivity drops and sick days.

As such, investing in certain devices can help. With sick building syndrome, air conditioning is an effective way to keep the air in your office clean.

Along with promoting physical activity and regular rest breaks for your staff, this can help to reduce the issues of persistent illness you come across.

Does it pose potential legal issues?

If your employees are becoming sick and no preventive steps or assessments are undertaken, then this may be malpractice or negligence.

A sick building syndrome lawsuit may arise if you don’t take adequate steps to combat the issue. In worst-case scenarios, this may include employment tribunal action against your business.

It’s important to look into ways to ensure you’re doing what’s necessary to promote a healthy and happy working environment.

Need our help?

If you have any questions about this topic, or anything relating to sickness at work, contact us for immediate help: 0800 028 2420.

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