Allergies and allergy sickness are among the top three reasons people miss work, and can have a significant effect on productivity. So it’s very important for business owners to recognize that they should do some simple things that can reduce overall exposure to allergens and other irritants.
1. Control dust mites: Dust mites are one of the most common allergens in homes and are often passively carried from home to the workplace. Mite eggs can be carried into the office environment on clothing. Carpets, upholstered furniture and even cubicle walls may harbour dust mites. Requesting frequent carpet cleaning and dusting your work area with a microfiber cloth or wet rag can help reduce dust mites in your work area. EPSCO recommends using HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) fitted vacuum cleaners to clean the space around your immediate work area.
2. Reduce animal allergens: Even if you work in a pet-free building, you may be exposed to cat and dog hair. Pet hair is also carried on clothing and becomes part of the indoor environment. If possible, avoid placing allergy sufferers and pet owners in the same workspaces and provide hair removal rollers at the office.
3. Protect against seasonal allergens: Pollen can enter the workplace through ventilation and opening and closing of windows. Ensure your office has good air filtration. EPSCO recommends changing air filters and maintaining heating and air conditioning systems twice a year.
4. Reduce environmental hazards: Cleaning fluids and air fresheners release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the atmosphere. These fumes can irritate lungs causing respiratory distress and shortness of breath. Avoid using plug-ins and aerosol air fresheners and switch to cleaning products with no VOCs.
5. Change your allergy medication: While antihistamine medication may ease allergy symptoms, they can also have you falling asleep in the boardroom. EPSCO recommends taking a non-sedating antihistamine or asking your doctor about getting an allergy shot which may provide longer-term relief without the drowsy side effects.
6. Get office environment cleaned properly: Office area generally comprises of carpeted area as well as hard floors. Get the hard floors damp mopped once a day. Consider wet-vacuum cleaning when possible for the carpeted area. Also, steam cleaning carpets once in a while. Dust and vacuum once or twice a week to remove the build up of allergens. Use a dry cloth to wipe hard surfaces such as counter tops, tables, and other furniture. Vacuum the cloth-covered furniture to get rid of as much dust as you can. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter or a special double-thickness bag, which collects dust-mite particles and pollen. Standard paper bag filters may allow the stirred-up allergens to escape back into the room.
7. Use smart furniture: Furniture that naturally doesn’t harbour mites is an intelligent option. Avoid too many sofas or too much furniture that are covered with fabric. Use pillow and mattress covers made from a tight-weave fabric that keeps out dust and mites. Use furniture made of wood, plastic, leather, or vinyl (including vinyl mattress covers) that you can wipe clean. Use roll-down shades or washable curtains.