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NIOSH warns employers to be aware of the dangers, costs associated with building moisture

Like their industrial counterparts, those employers whose primary operations are conducted in office settings must always remain vigilant about protecting their workforce. However, this means implementing measures that not only prevent outward injuries (sprains, strains, contusions, etc.), but internal injuries as well.

For instance, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently released an alert warning employers about the dangers posed by moisture in buildings. While this may seem like a strange and perhaps even trivial concern at first glance, consider this short list of serious ailments that can result from exposure to dampness/moisture in office settings:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Asthma
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs caused by inhaling a foreign substance)
  • Respiratory infections
  • Bronchitis

Making matters worse, NIOSH indicated that prolonged exposure to moisture can greatly exacerbate existing respiratory conditions among office workers.

"Individuals with asthma or hypersensitivity pneumonitis may be at risk for progression to more severe disease if the relationship between illness and exposure to the damp building is not recognized and exposures continue," reads the alert.

According to NIOSH, moisture typically enters office buildings through leaks in windows or doors, flooding events or via high levels of indoor humidity. This moisture incursion, in turn, leads to the development of mold, fungi and other bacteria that can cause the ailments listed above.

The alert goes on to suggest multiple methods by which employers can minimize the danger posed by excess moisture. While a complete discussion of these methods is beyond the scope of a single blog post, here are a few of the more salient points:

  • Conduct regular inspections of the building (windows, doors, roofs, ceilings, walls, basements, etc.) to uncover any signs of moisture incursion
  • Clean, repair or replace building materials that have been wet and are now exhibiting signs of mold growth
  • Install and maintain proper HVAC systems to prevent the buildup of high levels of indoor humidity

Stay tuned for more from our workers' compensation defense blog ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Source:

Risk & Insurance, "NIOSH: Address building moisture early to protect health, save costs," Jan. 18, 2013

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