Could your building be making staff ill?

Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a term that has been coined to describe a range of symptoms thought to be linked to spending time in a certain building, usually a workplace. It covers a range of symptoms including headaches, nausea, aches and pains, fatigue, shortness of breath and irritated, itchy or blocked nose. SBS is most commonly associated with office buildings but not exclusively.

There is some debate as to whether SBS is real but there is certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that a combination of elements in workplaces could be responsible for these symptoms, these include:

  • Poor ventilation
  • Low humidity
  • High temperature or changes in temperature
  • Airborne particles
  • Airborne chemical pollutants
  • Poor cleanliness

Ventilation is a common factor amongst these elements with inadequate or plain lack of ventilation playing a key role in most of them. Not having a proper ventilation system can be very detrimental to health but so can having one that isn’t working as it should.

That is why ventilation maintenance is so important. A ventilation measure such as an air conditioning system can work very well but the maintenance and servicing of it is just as important as getting it installed in the first place.

The very nature of ventilation is that it sucks in airborne particles so periodic cleaning is vital as is filter management. Failure to look after it could well contribute to creating the issues you’re trying to resolve.

Consider the last time you had your ventilation system serviced, whether that be in a commercial or industrial environment. If it’s more than a year or two you really ought to consider having it professionally inspected. There are also other benefits as an efficient system working at optimum level will be more economic to run, be more effective and create a more pleasant working environment.

You can see advice on SBS from the NHS here and a case study regarding our ventilation here and details about our ventilation services here.