An allergy is the immune system’s reaction to foreign substances, such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. For most people, it doesn’t require immediate medical attention, but for others, it can be debilitating and life-threatening.
However, an allergy can mean much more than a stuffy nose and watery eyes, especially for many employees. It reduces employee efficiency and productivity, incurs medical expenses, and promotes poor employee experience.
Some of the most common workplace allergens include dust, resins, debris, mold, latex, and animal dander. Although allergies can’t be cured, they can be controlled, and that should be one of your responsibilities as an employer.
Controlling workplace allergens can boost productivity, improve employee experience, and minimize medical expenses. In this post, you’ll learn some helpful tips on how to keep your workplace allergy-free.
Keep Your Workplace Clean
Did you know that 7.7% of the U.S. population—around 19.2 million adults—suffer from allergic rhinitis or hay fever?
Allergic rhinitis is one of the most common allergic reactions that can cause persistent and recurrent sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, and congestion. It’s typically triggered by common allergens, such as mold, animal dander, and pollen.
Unfortunately, these allergens are commonly found in almost every workplace, making a lot of employees suffer and reducing their work productivity and efficiency. This is why keeping your workplace clean is essential.
A clean and healthy workplace keeps allergens at bay. Here are some best things you can do to keep your work environment clean at all times:
- Vacuum Every Day: Daily vacuuming can help prevent dust and other allergens from accumulating. Experts prefer vacuums when removing dust over feather dusters, which can spread harmful particles everywhere.
- Disinfect Surfaces: Disinfect surfaces using alcohol-soaked wipes or disinfectant spray to get rid of dust mites and other allergens. You can opt for fragrance-free in case you’re hypersensitive to strong scents.
- Replace Or Remove Old Rugs: Rugs can trap dust mites, pollen, animal dander, and other allergens. Replace your old rugs with smaller ones to toss them simply into the laundry for easy clean-up. If possible, just get rid of them from your office.
Besides these cleaning practices, check these simple tips on keeping the office clean. These tips can also help you keep harmful allergens at bay.
Find Out Who Has Allergies
As an employer, you should have an idea of who among your employees has allergies. This will help you prevent workplace allergies in the long run. Besides, it encourages other employees to be mindful of their actions to avoid triggering their co-workers’ allergies even unintentionally.
Knowing your employees’ allergies can help reduce and prevent workplace discrimination. Then, use the information you have to develop proactive measures that promote an allergy-free workplace. Here are some examples you may consider:
- Provide allergen-free lunches to accommodate the needs of employees allergic to specific foods, such as dairy, nuts, soy, gluten, seafood, and so on.
- Require your employees to clean their workspaces at least twice weekly to prevent allergens from accumulating.
- Limit the amount of food allergens employees can bring into the company so as not to trigger others’ allergies.
- Inform your employees who have hypersensitivity to certain substances, so they can be more conscious of their actions.
Optimize Your HVAC System
HVAC stands for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. Its primary role is to create a comfortable atmosphere by regulating temperature and promoting healthy airflow.
Your HVAC system is one of your strongest weapons against harmful allergens. It improves indoor air quality by filtering mold, pollen, dust mites, and other allergy-causing particles.
This is why an HVAC system must always be in perfect working condition. That said, here are some tips to keep your unit up and running:
- Replace Clogged Filters: Clogged filters won’t be able to filter allergens effectively, allowing some of them to circulate throughout your workplace. Make sure to replace them with new ones at least once a month for optimum filtration.
- Dust Air Vents: Air vents get dusty over time. This dust can circulate throughout your workplace if left ignored. To prevent that, make sure to clean them at least once a week by running a damp cloth to get rid of dust and debris effectively.
- Clean Air Ducts: Allergens and other harmful impurities often accumulate in air ducts. Make sure to clean them regularly to promote healthy and clean air for your employees, especially those with asthma and seasonal allergies.
Optimize Humidity Levels
Humidity plays a crucial role in maintaining an allergy-free workplace. Humidity above 60% can increase the risk of allergy-induced asthma and allergic rhinitis. It also encourages dust mites and mold growth.
On the other hand, humidity lower than 30% can increase the risk of skin allergies. This is because there’s not enough moisture in the air to keep the skin moist, causing dry and flaky skin. It can also dry nasal passages, making it difficult to breathe.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor humidity levels should be maintained between 30-50%.
If your indoor air is too dry, consider using a humidifier. This device releases steam into the air to improve humidity levels. Otherwise, use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity levels in your workplace.
Stock Allergy Medicines
Even if you follow all the tips above, accidents can still happen. That’s why you must keep your office prepared at all times. Stock allergy medications and make them accessible to everyone to accommodate unexpected allergic reactions.
Common allergy meds your office might need are as follows:
- Desloratadine; and the like.
These over-the-counter medications are non-drowsy, meaning they won’t get sleepy or dizzy while addressing allergies at work.
Use HEPA Filters
HEPA is short for high-efficiency particulate air. It’s a type of air filter that can block microscopic airborne particles more efficiently than regular filters. These include dust, mold, animal dander, and even tobacco smoke.
With a HEPA filter, you’ll be able to improve the health of your employees, boost their morale, and encourage retention.
Allergies can be detrimental to your workplace. They can reduce employee efficiency and incur unwanted medical expenses. To keep your workplace allergy-free, follow the simple tips discussed above. Always keep your office clean, know which employees have allergies, optimize your HVAC system, promote healthy humidity levels, stock allergy meds, and use HEPA filters.
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