Many working adults spend more waking hours at work than they do at home. With that in mind, shouldn’t the air where you work be healthy? It may not be. According to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration, approximately 11 million workers, including those who work in offices and restaurants, are exposed to at least one or more substances in their workplaces that could trigger asthma attacks.
Fixing air issues in a workplace often takes partnerships. You may have to collaborate with or at least communicate your concerns with your management, co-workers and building ownership. Luckily, others may share your concerns, and often simple solutions exist. The American Lung Association has steps you can take to create a more lung-friendly workplace:
1. Make your workplace tobacco-free
There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke according to the U.S. Surgeon General. Establish a 100 percent tobacco-free workplace environment. If a complete tobacco-free policy is not an option, companies may also designate only certain outdoor areas for smoking.
2. Go fragrance-free
Scented cleaning products or fragrances like perfumes, lotions, air fresheners, aftershave and soaps can be powerful asthma and allergy triggers. Speak to your employer’s human resources to create a fragrance-free workplace policy in your office.
3. Ventilate properly
Effective ventilation is essential to protect you and others from mold and other allergens and irritants, like dust and chemical fumes. Report respiratory symptoms and breakdowns in ventilation and other protective equipment to your employer immediately.
4. Avoid pesticides
Exposure to pesticides can cause both short and long-term health problems. Integrated pest management is an effective and environmentally-sensitive approach to controlling pests. Regular trash removal and clean break rooms can help reduce pest issues.
5. Advocate for comprehensive health benefits
Benefits should include coverage of asthma care, asthma medications and pneumonia and flu shots.
Where you work should never make you labor to breathe. Take these steps and you can begin to retire unhealthy air at work.