Keep mould at bay to keep the doctor away
With the recent increased rainfall and high moisture levels, you need to be conscious of the dangers posed by mould at your workplace, and implement steps to detect and eliminate the risk.
Mould is a natural part of our environment but can pose a significant health risk to workers if it grows uncontrolled, so it should be immediately removed.
A World Health Organization 2009 report on mould stated that the prevalence of indoor dampness might affect between 10% and 50% of indoor environments in Australia, particularly in settings such as river valleys and coastal areas.
The exposure to mould can occur through either breathing, ingestion or contact with skin. The hazard varies depending on the type of mould, including whether it will cause allergic reactions, infections (such as skin infections), or toxic reactions leading to serious illnesses and other health conditions.
The most important steps you can take to prevent mould is to limit the amount of water or moisture entering the place of work. Reducing dampness will limit the chance that mould will grow.
As with other airborne pathogens, ventilation is a key protection by limiting the areas of excessive humidity.
Other steps recommended by the regulators include:
- providing adequate drainage around buildings;
- undertaking repairs promptly to prevent water damage;
- ensuring heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems are working effectively;
- managing water vapour and condensation, especially in high water vapour areas such as bathrooms and showers, i.e. provide ventilation and the ability to hang up towels or damp clothing;
- checking plumbing for leaks;
- keeping furnishings dry;
- ensuring good ventilation throughout the workplace; and
- having air-handling systems maintained to the manufacturer’s requirements.
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