Every employee has the right to a safe, healthy working environment. This includes air quality. Having poor air exchange or unhealthy air quality not only affects the work that employees are capable of performing, it can also lead to serious health consequences.
Indoor Air Quality
There are a variety of factors that can affect a person’s health and ability to work, according to the United States Department of Labor:
- Poor ventilation;
- Mold spores; and
- Chemical exposure.
Poor air quality can stem from the following:
- Lack of proper ventilation (not enough fresh air being brought in, or the outside air being pumped in is contaminated);
- High humidity and dampness due to leaks, standing water, or flooding; and
- The behaviors or activities of the occupants such as construction or smoking in non designated areas.
The Health Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality
People that suffer from poor work air quality may notice that their symptoms appear at work and then disappear when they leave, or that others at work complain of the same symptoms. This is a sign that the problem does exist in just one location and is not a health issue of theirs alone. Symptoms of people that suffer from poor air quality include headaches, fatigue, persistent cough, fever, and difficulties breathing. More serious health issues include developing asthma and pneumonia.
Measures to Ensure High Quality Air in the Workplace
Your employer should keep a watchful eye out for anything that might trigger a decline in the air quality. Inspections should be made of the ventilation system, heating and air conditioning, and the humidity. Having high humidity increases the risk of mold, which can release toxic spores into the air that cause breathing problems. There should not be standing water within air conditioning units, within humidifiers, or on rooftops as all these scenarios could lead to the accumulation of bacteria and fungi (mold). In addition to this, buildings must be checked for radon and asbestos contamination. It is every employer’s obligation to ensure high air quality for their employees and any invitees under the General Duty Clause, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Signs and Symptoms that Poor Air Quality has Led to a Decline in Health:
- Persistent cough;
- Difficulties breathing;
- Development of asthma;
- The above symptoms are consistently troublesome throughout your time at work, and possibly regardless of the season;
- The above symptoms began during office renovation or construction;
- Other coworkers complain of the same problems; and
- Your doctor diagnosed or previously diagnosed you with a sensitivity to poor air quality or illnesses caused by poor air quality.
If your employer refuses to address the problem, or you came down with a serious illness due to the poor air quality in your place of work, you may be able to collect damages to help with your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages if you had to miss work. Do not hesitate to contact a New York indoor air quality attorney today at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We can be reached at 212-397-1000 and are here to discuss your legal options for compensation.