Indoor mold is not welcome in the workplace. Working side by side with mold colonies can put employees in serious danger. Mold spores create unhealthy working conditions and should be removed immediately.
When staff experience symptoms of mold exposure, here’s what to do.
What is mold?
Mold, a type of fungus, is everywhere in the natural environment. Outdoors, mold spores break down decaying organic matter, from fallen trees to dead leaves. Outdoor mold plays an important role in the natural environment. Over 100,000 known species of mold can be found worldwide.
Indoor mold is a grave health concern, however. Mold spores eat away at organic materials, such as drywall and wood—both of which can be found in a typical workplace. When wooden structural materials are consumed by the spores, the structural integrity of the building is compromised.
Mold infestations can begin in a corner of the drywall in the workplace or on paper stored in a damp file cabinet, for instance. All the mold requires to live is a constant supply of moisture, organic materials, and darkness. Damp workplace conditions encourage mold issues.
Why does mold appear?
Mold can appear in the workplace for many common reasons. Older buildings can be ridden with moisture problems. Some buildings are constructed to be tightly sealed, which can prevent adequate ventilation and cause moisture buildup. Drywall does not allow moisture to easily escape.
Moisture problems may also stem from unrepaired roof leaks. Uncontrolled humidity, unvented combustion appliances, and delayed maintenance can result in a damp workplace environment. If the gutters direct water under the building, the continual dampness will contribute to mold outbreaks.
What molds are toxic?
Black mold, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, has a widespread reputation for being toxic; in fact, black mold is often referred to as toxic black mold. The reality, however, is that black mold is not any more toxic than any other colors or types of molds.
But mold is dangerous to people who are sensitive or allergic to mold. Black mold, for instance, produces toxic chemicals known as mycotoxins. While inhaling black mold spores has not been linked to deadly diseases, there are risks for people who suffer from asthma, allergies, or other hypersensitivities.
What are the symptoms of mold exposure?
Toxic mold syndrome, which includes symptoms, like headache, memory loss, fatigue, and an inability to focus, is based more on media hype than on reality. Rather, the real danger is when people with mold allergies develop adverse health symptoms after being exposed to mold.
Employees who suffer from asthma are likely to experience an asthma attack upon mold exposure in the workplace. An asthma attack triggered by mold growth includes a range of health symptoms, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness.
In addition to individuals with mold allergies, employees who have been exposed to mold growth for extended periods can also develop symptoms. Common symptoms include coughing, postnasal drip, sneezing, itchy eyes, nose or throat, nasal congestion, and dry, scaly skin.
Do employees have legal recourse after being exposed to mold?
A healthy workplace is a legal requirement. Annual inspections help prevent mold outbreaks in the building. Reducing the likelihood of a mold infestation requires that the employer enforce safety protocols in the workplace and respond to concerns about mold growth.
At the first sign of mold, the employer must conduct a mold inspection to determine the type of mold and the extent of growth. A mold remediation plan may begin, at which point the building will be temporarily closed to allow professional mold cleanup experts to begin removal.
The employer is responsible for notifying the employees working in the building of the potential for mold exposure. The building owner should also be made aware of the mold outbreak since this individual is responsible for initiating the mold cleanup efforts.
Employees who see black mold splotches or begin to experience symptoms of mold exposure are urged to communicate their findings to the human resources personnel. Becoming ill after inhaling mold spores can potentially qualify the employees for workers’ compensation benefits.
An employer can be negligent if he is aware of the mold problem yet does not try to remediate it. Malicious intent may be proven when emails or memos are uncovered from the employer’s office indicating the need to keep the mold problem under wraps.
Litigation may be possible if proof of negligence is difficult to obtain. Suing the company can be an option if the workers’ compensation laws are not in place for the case. A lawsuit is also a practical recourse when a third party fails to remove the mold from the ventilation system.
Mold in the workplace must be removed right away to protect the health of employees, visitors, and customers. When you encounter any level of mold growth in your company, consult the mold remediation experts.
Mold technicians do more than clean up mold growth. Their highly effective strategies to address the mold and prevent it from returning include repairing the moisture source. Skilled mold cleanup technicians look for the moisture problem and fix the mold and water damage that resulted from it.
Eliminating the water source will starve the spores of this much-needed nutrient. Once the water source is fixed, specialists contain the affected area to prevent the airborne mold spores from contaminating other areas of the building. Advanced products and equipment remove all mold.
Experienced technicians from a highly rated mold remediation company pinpoint not only visible mold growth but hidden mold growth, such as colonies spreading behind walls, underneath carpeting, or beneath wallpaper. Using high-tech equipment, technicians locate and remove all mold.
About Luke Armstrong
Expert in emergency fire and Hutto water restoration services, fire cleanup and Hutto water damage cleanup, mold removal, as well as carpet and upholstery cleaning services. Contributor to several restoration and cleaning blogs.