Every office space and working environment needs to be safe for employees as well as the clients who visit your place of business. This starts with maintaining a meticulously clean environment that is free from toxins and contaminants like mold.
While it might not seem like a big deal at first, mold in any workplace can lead to any number of serious health issues. Not the least of which will increase employee sick days. It can also affect employee morale to have foul odors around. People with respiratory health conditions, chronic inflammation conditions, asthma, and allergies can be at great risk of developing serious health problems, which can become liability issues.
What Causes Mold?
Mold spores abound throughout the natural world. Mold colonies reproduce by casting microscopic mold spores into the air. Mold spores are likely floating around you as you read this!
When these spores land on a moist surface, and there is sufficient warmth, they can germinate. If the surface is porous and offers up some basic nutrients, the spore can grow into an active mold colony. Under ideal conditions, this can happen in as little as 24 to 48 hours.
Once a colony established a presence it can then release even more mold spores into the indoor air which can allow a seemingly minor mold issue to become a major mold problem!
Common Signs of an Indoor Mold Problem in the Workplace
Water problems, plumbing leaks, condensation, roof leaks, basement drainage issues, and even pervasive humidity all increase the likelihood of an indoor mold problem developing in your workplace. Some of the more common areas where mold can start include:
- Roof & attic areas
- Breakrooms with a sink
- Basement & underground storage areas
Another place where water issues are common is around air conditioning units. When they are overtaxed these massive HVAC systems can build up with condensation that mold spores can exploit to create a colony.
When mold starts to develop you and your employees might notice things like
- Earthy odors limited to confined spaces
- Musty odors in storage spaces
- Discolored patches on woodwork & trim
- Discolored splotches spreading on drywall
- Black splotches on bathroom ceilings
- Leaky pipes
- Blisters under wallpaper
- Peeling paint in rooms with musty odors
- People with respiratory conditions having flareups
- Skin rashes
- People sneezing & coughing
- People complaining of recurring headaches
- People with itchy and inflamed eyes
Mold spores are particularly irritating in the air passages of people with asthma, respiratory allergies, and chronic respiratory health conditions. Many will note that their symptoms start to go away when they leave for vacation. Then return again just as severe after a few days back at the office.
The Dangers of Mold in the Workplace
The dangers of mold in the workplace go far beyond simple coughing, sneezing, and annoying little headaches. Some strains of mold like Stachybotrys chartarum, which is more commonly known as “Toxic Black Mold.” This is a strain of mold that is known for causing significant health problems for a healthy and the chronically ill.
Though certain strains of seemingly benign mold can also be an issue even for healthy employees. The mycotoxins that are typically attached to the mold spores can be irritating to nasal linings and other parts of the respiratory system. This can even cause health problems in otherwise healthy individuals.
People with chronic inflammatory conditions, autoimmune diseases, and people with chronic respiratory conditions can see their symptoms worsen over time. This can lead to excess loss of productivity from employee sick days, as well as an overall increase in health insurance premiums over time.
It’s also worth noting that several states have enacted new legislation related to indoor mold, which can lead to liability concerns in the workplace and other commercial properties.
If you’ve noticed signs of a mold problem in your workplace, the longer you wait to address them, the more likely you are to run into a severe problem. Even after they’ve been professionally remediated, you still need to take a proactive approach to keep the mold infestation from redeveloping.
Dealing with Mold in the Workplace
If you’ve noticed signs of a potential mold problem in your workplace, you need to take a proactive approach. If you are an employee, be sure to note your concerns to the office manager, and let them know where you suspect a problem is. Be sure to let them know what symptoms of mold infestation you found.
If you’re an office manager or commercial property owner, and you’ve detected signs of a mold problem in the workplace you are responsible for, you need to take a proactive approach to remediate and preventing the issue from recurring.
This starts with having a professional cleaning company like Building Services come in to clear away the mold, as well as any mold-infested materials. Our expertly trained eyes can look for signs of mold, test for it, and determine what caused it to start in the first place.
Once the mold has been completely extricated from your workplace, you can go about making the necessary repairs or changes to prevent it from recurring. This might mean doing things like:
- Fixing a roof leak
- Repairing a plumbing leak
- Upgrading or updating your central air conditioning system
- Repairing the foundation to seal cracks
- Installing automatic vents in all the workplace bathrooms
- Strategically placing dehumidifiers in areas prone to high humidity and condensation
We can also provide you with the necessary documentation that clearly defines where the mold problem was, what caused it, how it was professionally remediated, and how it was properly disposed of. This will go a long way toward insulating you against any future liability concerns.
One of the best ways to keep mold from developing in your workplace is to hire a professional cleaning company. This will ensure that low-touch surfaces are getting cleaned, waste bins are emptied and the entire office area is cleaned to exacting standards. Not only will this go a long way toward maintaining a professional clean appearance in your workplace, but you can also trust our expertly trained eyes to catch signs of mold in the earliest stages.
If one of our technicians notices a mold concern, they can clean it up quickly using our commercial-grade cleaning products and equipment. We can then report the problem to the appropriate supervisor to take further action and/or make the repairs to prevent it from happening again.