Sick Building Syndrome – Is your office making your employees sick?

November 23, 2020

Sick Building Syndrome is a term which was coined by the World Health Organisation in 1984 to describe a group of symptoms which were increasingly being experienced by office workers. The symptoms most commonly reported were aches and pains, headaches, nausea, fatigue and a general lack of concentration. Sometimes significantly serious in nature, these tended to ease – or even disappear completely – upon leaving the workplace.

The prime cause of Sick Building Syndrome was found to be inadequate ventilation resulting in a build-up of pollutants in the recirculating air. The 1980s saw a push to improve the energy efficiency of homes and commercial buildings, and this consequently led to a reduction in the ingress of fresh, outdoor air. The World Health Organisation believes that up to 30% of new or refurbished offices may suffer from SBS as a result of this enthusiastic quest to decrease energy costs. Therefore, it is an issue which many employers still face.

Contaminated air means poor health, unhappiness and low efficiency

The problems extend further than merely fielding complaints from workers who (correctly) believe their work environment is making them ill. Staff working in a building with inadequate ventilation, and a resulting build-up of pollutants, are far more susceptible to illness and absenteeism. What’s more, SBS has an incredibly negative effect on employee morale and job satisfaction which can lead to high turnover and increased recruitment costs. But even for those who remain at their posts, it’s widely accepted that they may be as much as 50% less effective in carrying out their roles and suffer a significant reduction in productivity.

With indoor air often 2-5 times more polluted than the air outside, it’s easy to see how the office atmosphere can rapidly become unhealthy. As well as concentrating any existing airborne contaminants such as bacteria or mould spores, poor ventilation also fails to remove the hazards added by daily activities. Volatile Organic Compounds originating from cleaning products for example, and the emissions from office equipment such as photocopiers and printers just add to the lethal cocktail of irritants being served to employees via the recirculating air all day long!

The most effective solution is nanofiltration

Understandably, rebuilding or remodelling an entire office building is rarely a possibility. The key to protecting the health and well-being of workers lies in the treatment of the air supply to remove the undesirable elements and leave only pure, fresh, clean air.

But traditional air filtration systems alone may not be enough. The particulate size of many of the pollutants – especially those of a bacterial or viral nature – means that standard filtration is generally ineffective in removing those which can cause most harm. COVID 19 is just one type of virus which can remain to spread severe illness within the workforce.

Nanofiltration is the only answer if the air supply is to be deemed entirely clean and safe for the building’s users. At KSG Health, we import and distribute Genano air purification systems; a solution which removes particles down to nanometre size, eliminating microbes plus all other problematic contamination - even gases and odours.

Already used in hospitals and commercial buildings across the world, Genano technology reduces airborne transmission, makes offices safe for work and protects workers’ health and productivity.

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