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October 30, 2018
Sick building syndrome and the workplace
Francesca Brady

Companies obviously understand the importance of keeping their teams healthy and productive. Recent studies suggest, the environmental quality of office facilities is a factor that can greatly contribute to both the availability and performance of the workforce. Controlling environmental factors in the office is recognised by some experts as an important factor to avoid the phenomenon known as ‘sick building syndrome’.


What can cause sick building syndrome?

The causes of sick building syndrome are currently undefined, but some experts suggest its most likely a combination of factors. Likely causes are thought to include; ventilation systems that have been clogged by dust, foliage or other debris, Flickering lights, incorrect room temperatures, peeled paint, fibres from old carpets, chemicals from printers/ photocopiers. Excessive moisture can also be problematic, sometimes leading to the development of mould in less frequently used parts of a building.

These sources could all potentially contribute to poor air quality. If several of the aforementioned factors are at work at the same time, some experts feel the space is likely to have a negative impact on the health and productivity of the people inside it.


How to identify sick building syndrome

One of the first signs can be multiple team members complaining about similar, vaguely defined symptoms. While manifestations may differ from case to case, headaches and the inability to concentrate are among the most common. There can be a tendency for more cases to occur in periods when heating systems are turned on, as this is thought to increase the circulation of particles and gasses throughout the building.

Typically symptoms subside when the affected individual/ individuals are away from the problematic space for a few days.


What can be done to protect your team?

A logical first step is to test the air quality inside your building. This can be done by installing smart sensors in frequently used locations (ie meeting rooms) and measuring various factors in real time. By comparing CO2 levels and other values to established benchmarks, it is possible to determine the environmental quality of your space. In many cases, simple changes, such as opening windows to improve ventilation, ensuring rooms are optimised for thermal comfort, or changing the use of a room to make sure it isn't overpopulated, can be sufficient.

Asset Mapping can measure critical parameters and provide real time data to help you understand the true condition of your environment. We can also advise you how to make important improvements, even in more severe cases. If people in your team are showing signs of sluggishness, suffering from poor concentration, or headaches, it may be time to check the quality of your office space. Talk to our team today and learn more about our innovative IoT based solution.

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