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Mold in the workplace: What you need to know

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Mold can grow virtually anywhere and generally is not a problem. However, issues arise when mold grows indoors.

An OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin states that being exposed to mold can result in health problems and can cause significant damage to a workplace.

Health effects

Scientific research on the health effects of mold exposure is ongoing, but some facts are known. Mold exposure may cause allergic reactions; skin or mucosal infections; asthma attacks; and skin, eyes, nose and throat irritation, according to OSHA.

Structural issues

“If left unchecked, mold can eventually cause structural damage to a wood-framed building, weakening floors and walls as it feeds on moist wooden structural members,” OSHA states. “If you suspect that mold has damaged building integrity, consult a structural engineer or other professional with the appropriate expertise.”

To help prevent mold growth in buildings, be on the lookout for water damage, leaks or excessive moisture, and be sure to clean up all spills immediately.

Prevention

If you suspect mold in your workplace, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there visible water damage anywhere?
  • Are there building materials around that have been wet for more than two days?
  • Does the building have pre-existing moisture issues?
  • Are workers complaining of musty or moldy smells?
  • Is anyone reporting health problems that could be associated with mold?

OSHA recommends a number of tips to help prevent mold in your workplace, including:

  • Repair any plumbing problems immediately.
  • Keep your building’s humidity level below 70 percent.
  • Regularly inspect your building’s HVAC system.
  • Ensure adequate drainage is around your building.
  • Keep vents for moisture-creating appliances on the outside of the building.